INDIA – In an announcement by Indian top foreign ministry official, the nation has pledged to export 8 million COVID-19 vaccine jabs by the end of October after lifting its ban on overseas shipment. The Asian nation halted vaccine exports in May after a devastating coronavirus wave ravaged the country.
As part of a broader strategy to counter China’s influence, the so-called Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) leaders of United States, Japan, India, and Australia have collaborated to develop a plan to distribute Covid-19 vaccines to Asian countries.
According to the White House, Quad leaders have pledged to donate more than 1.2 billion vaccine doses globally, in a joint statement. This is in addition to the vaccines already funded by COVAX.
The vaccines will be developed in the United States, manufactured in India, and funded by Japan and the United States, with logistical support provided by Australia.
India has thrown its weight behind this strategy and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that the nation will resume vaccine exports in October.
PM Modi stated that India would make available eight million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, produced locally by Biological E.
Those 8 million vaccines would be ready by October, in accordance with India’s decision to restart vaccine exports.
The majority of the eight million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine will be delivered to Asia-Pacific countries, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s foreign secretary has said.
“This should be completed by the end of October. This is a direct delivery from the Quad to the Indo-Pacific region,” Shringla explained.
“The Quad also welcomes India’s announcement that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine exports, including to COVAX, will resume in October 2021,” the joint statement said.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also stated that the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue nations came together in the interest of humanity at a time when the world is fighting COVID-19, and that the Quad vaccine initiative will benefit Indo-Pacific nations.
For years, India has struggled to keep pace with Chinese investment in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Maldives, where China is building ports, roads, and power plants as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.
However, diplomats have said that the demand for vaccines in these countries desperate to revive their tourism-dependent economies has provided Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government with a way to regain ground.
With new Covid-19 infections and deaths slowing, India lifted its vaccine export ban this week.
The country faced weeks of vaccine shortages as a coronavirus outbreak killed at least 250,000 people and infected tens of millions more between March and May.
India has now administered nearly 840 million doses of vaccine. Almost half of the adult population has received at least one vaccination, with 16 percent receiving a second dose.