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India to be vaccine making hub for Quad

Government sources said the vaccine initiative would allow new manufacturing capacities to be added in India for exports to the Indo-Pacific region.

Ashok Tuteja | New Delhi |

Four nations call for open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region
The four ‘Quad’ nations today announced their decision to launch a historic initiative to pool their financial resources, manufacturing capabilities and capacities and logistics to ramp up the manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region.

At their first-ever summit, the four nations ~ the US, India, Australia and Japan ~ also called for an open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region with freedom of navigation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the Indian delegation at the virtual summit which was also attended by US President Joe Biden, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

“India welcomes this (vaccine) initiative as it recognises our own manufacturing capacities and capabilities. We look forward to whole-hearted participation in this endeavour. This vaccine supply chain is built by trust,” foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said while briefing the media on the outcomes of the summit.

He said the initiative would help mitigate the sufferings of the people due to the pandemic. Under the initiative, vaccines would be manufactured in India and financed by the USA and Japan while the last mile delivery would be ensured by Australia.

The aim was to produce a billion doses by 2022 to cover the people in the entire Indo-Pacific region. Shringla said the four leaders agreed to set up three working groups, including a vaccine experts’ working group. In his remarks, Mr Modi said the four ‘Quad’ nations were united by their democratic values, and their commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

He said the agenda of the summit covered areas like vaccines, climate change and emerging technologies, which indeed made the ‘Quad’ a force for global good. “I see this positive vision as an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which regards the world as one family.”

The ‘Quad’, Mr Modi said, has come of age and would be important pillar of stability in the region. Mr Biden, who was attending his first plurilateral summit since his inauguration in January, said the US was committed to working with the other three ‘Quad’ countries and with its other allies in the Indo-Pacific region to achieve stability.

“This group is particularly important because it is dedicated to the practical solutions and concrete results,” he added. The Australian Prime Minister said, “It’s the IndoPacific that would now shape the destiny of the world in the 21st Century. As four leaders of great democracies in the IndoPacific, let our partnership be an enabler of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”

The Indian foreign secretary said the four ‘Quad’ leaders decided that they would hold an in-person summit on the margins of multilateral summits later this year. Mr Biden, Mr Morrison and Mr Suga appreciated India for its role in providing Covid vaccines to nearly 70 countries under the ‘Maitri’ (friendship) initiative.

Government sources said the vaccine initiative would allow new manufacturing capacities to be added in India for exports to the Indo-Pacific region. It would not impinge on India’s existing manufacturing capacities.

“In today’s context, it is one of the most important initiatives. We are talking about huge investments in creating additional vaccine capacities in India for exports to countries in the Indo-Pacific region for their betterment. We are talking about producing a billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2022,” Mr Shringla said.