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PM Modi, Joe Biden speak over phone a day after US agrees to export vaccine raw materials

The discussion with the US President "underscored the importance of smooth and efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials and medicines", Modi tweeted following his conversation with Biden.

April 26, 2021 / 11:00 PM IST
File image of PM Modi with Joe Biden, who was then the vice president in the Obama administration (Image: AFP)

File image of PM Modi with Joe Biden, who was then the vice president in the Obama administration (Image: AFP)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Joe Biden held a telephonic conversation on April 26, a day after Washington agreed to export the critical raw materials sought by vaccine manufacturers in India.

The two leaders discussed the COVID-19 situation in their respective countries, including India’s ongoing efforts to contain the second wave of COVID-19 through expedited vaccination efforts, and ensuring supply of critical medicines, therapeutics and healthcare equipment.

Modi, in a series of tweets following his phone call with Biden, said he thanked the US President for supporting India in addressing the challenges posed by the resurgent coronavirus crisis.

"Had a fruitful conversation with @POTUS @JoeBiden today. We discussed the evolving COVID situation in both countries in detail. I thanked President Biden for the support being provided by the United States to India (sic)," Modi tweeted.

The prime minister further added that his discussion with Biden "underscored the importance of smooth and efficient supply chains of vaccine raw materials and medicines". The India-US healthcare partnership can address the "global challenge of COVID-19", he added.

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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A statement issued by the Indian Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said President Biden has "conveyed solidarity with India" and affirmed that the US was determined to support India’s efforts by "quickly deploying resources such as therapeutics, ventilators and identifying sources of raw materials to be made available for the manufacture of Covishield vaccines".

Till the past week, the Biden administration had maintained that it would restrict the supply of vaccines and key raw materials in view of the ongoing vaccination programme in America.

The change in Washington's approach came shortly after Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval held a telephonic conversation with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan on April 25.

The White House, in a statement issued following Doval and Sullivan's phone call, said it has decided to immediately provide India with the "sources for raw materials" required by the vaccine manufacturers.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” Emily Horne, spokesperson of the National Security Council of White House, said.

"The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine that will immediately be made available for India," the White House statement further added.

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