US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday praised India for lifting export bans on critical medical supplies including pharmaceuticals used to treat COVID-19 patients, saying it was an example of working together with partner countries to tackle the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We're working with our friends in Australia, India and Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and Vietnam to share information and best practices as we begin to move the global economy forward,” Pompeo told reporters at a news conference here.
"Our conversation certainly involved global supply chains, keeping them running smoothly, getting our economies back to full strength and thinking about how we restructure the supply change chains to prevent something like this from ever happening again,” he said.
The coronavirus has infected more than three million people and claimed over 211,000 lives worldwide.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
"One example of our work together is with India. It's lifted export bans on critical medical supplies including pharmaceuticals used to treat some COVID-19 patients,” Pompeo said.
Over the last few weeks, he has spoken over phone - at least four times - with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. Readout of the calls indicated that ensuring global supply chain figured prominently in their conversations.
Pompeo said that the US government has provided more than $32 million in funding to support the COVID-19 response in Pacific island countries.
"We're working with the Burmese government, the United Nations, NGOs, and others to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Burma, including among vulnerable populations,” he said.
Referring to a recent report, Pompeo said that Americans have devoted nearly $6.5 billion in government and non-government contributions to help countries fight COVID-19.
“This is by far the largest country total in the world and more than 12 times that of China's combined contributions,” he said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.