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US plans to lure PM Narendra Modi to restart COVID-19 vaccine exports: Report

India, the world's largest vaccine producer, began exporting COVID-19 vaccines in January. But the export stopped in March when infections soared in the country.

September 14, 2021 / 11:35 AM IST
Convincing India to resume its COVID-19 vaccine supply to the world is an important part of the Biden administration's strategy to contain the spread of the coronavirus globally.

Convincing India to resume its COVID-19 vaccine supply to the world is an important part of the Biden administration's strategy to contain the spread of the coronavirus globally.

Joe Biden’s administration in the United States is planning to offer Prime Minister Narendra Modi a higher-profile role at an upcoming COVID-19 global summit in New York if he agrees to restart the export of vaccines against the novel coronavirus, according to a report.

To end the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, global vaccine supply remains important. Therefore, with this plan, the Biden administration is “quietly pressuring” India to resume vaccine export, reported Axios citing sources familiar with the development.

India, the world's largest vaccine producer, began exporting COVID-19 vaccines in January. But the export stopped in March when infections soared in the country.

Now, convincing the Indian government to resume its vaccine supply to the world through the global vaccination organization COVAX is an important part of the Biden administration's strategy to contain the spread of the virus globally, said the report.

A Reuters report also confirmed that the US is communicating regularly with India in bilateral and multilateral channels to discuss the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and inquire about its timeline for restarting vaccine exports. However, it did not mention that the issue was tied to PM Modi's upcoming participation in the summit.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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PM Modi has been invited to participate in the September 24 summit of leaders of the "Quad" countries - Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. The global pandemic will be a key topic of the Quad leaders' summit in Washington.

The visit by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison, Narendra Modi, and Yoshihide Suga to the United States will coincide with the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which Biden will address on Sept. 21.

The Quad leaders met virtually in March and agreed to work closely on COVID-19 vaccines, but the initiative stalled after India was hit by a catastrophic wave of novel coronavirus infections and halted vaccine exports.

Also read | WHO congratulates India for administering 10 crore COVID-19 vaccine jabs in just 13 days

The administration official said Washington was staying in close touch with India and other Quad partners about the vaccine partnership, and "any factors that may affect this project or global vaccine supply," but those discussions were not tied to a specific summit or engagement, reported the news agency.

The official noted that Washington had diverted its own supply of raw materials for vaccine production to India in April, given its urgent needs.

"We commend India for being one of the largest manufacturers for safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines globally, and we note that COVAX and the world rely heavily on India's contributions," the official said.

"It's important for the United States to engage all our allies and partners on these matters so we can take the necessary actions to end this pandemic together," the official added.

India has so far administered over 75 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the union health ministry.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Sep 14, 2021 11:35 am

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