• Tuesday, November 29, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

India hopes US will soon ease ban on vaccine material exports

A woman gets inoculated with a dose of the Covishield shot, at a vaccination camp held inside a temple in Bengaluru. (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Sattwik Biswal

INDIA is hopeful the United States will soon lift ban on the export of vaccine raw materials after the foreign ministers of both the countries spoke on this issue, government sources told Reuters on Monday (19).

According to an Indian government official, Joe Biden administration has told India that its request to lift the ban was being considered and would be acted upon “at the earliest”.

Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar tweeted that he and the US secretary of state Antony Blinken had discussed, among other things, “issues pertaining to our health cooperation”.

The Indian foreign ministry declined to elaborate. The US State Department confirmed the two diplomats discussed Covid-19, but did not give details.

India is currently facing the world’s worst surge in coronavirus infections, which has led to a clamour for vaccines. The country with the world’s biggest vaccine-making capacity has also stopped major exports to meet domestic demand.

Jaishankar confirmed on Monday (19) that the government was trying to address the raw materials matter but that it was important for India to meet its export commitments too.

“I am pushing other countries, particularly some big countries, saying ‘Look, please keep the raw materials flowing for the vaccines to be made in India’,” he said, without naming any country.

“Can I … go around the world and tell people ‘Guys keep your supply chain flowing towards me … but I am not going to give you the vaccine?'”

Washington has invoked the Defense Production Act to preserve vaccine raw materials for its own companies, but the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, has said this went against the global goal of sharing vaccines equitably.

Asked about the restrictions on exports, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said inequities in access to vaccines were “completely unacceptable”, but declined to detail additional US action to address the issue.

SII is licensed to make the AstraZeneca shot and also another developed by US company Novavax.

Eastern Eye

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