Quad officials hail vaccine initiative for 2022

Quad officials hail vaccine initiative for 2022

The logistics being worked out 

The vaccine initiative announced by the Quad leaders last week was a “path-breaking effort” at a “truly historic” summit, said Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, as officials in the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. coalition also said that details of the plan to provide 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Southeast Asian countries by 2022 are being worked out. 

“The Quad vaccine collaboration initiative is a pathbreaking effort, envisioning manufacture of U.S. vaccines in India — and delivery to countries in the Indo-Pacific region with support of Japan and Australia. It is an example of collective efforts which can be leveraged for global good in these challenging times,” Mr. Muraleedharan said, addressing an event organised by the Indo-American Friendship Association in Delhi. 

In Canberra, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced the pledge of an additional $77 million for the Quad effort, in addition to about $400 million that Australia has already committed for regional vaccine access. 

“Quad partners will take opportunities to implement joint or closely coordinated programmes of support for our partner countries in the Indo-Pacific with a particular focus on Southeast Asia,” Ms. Payne told the Australian Parliament on Tuesday, adding that the Quad countries’ plan to make “investments will ramp up vaccine manufacturing capacity, fund the procurement and distribution of vaccines and provide last mile delivery support”. 

Summit spirit: On Quad and India’s interests

According to a “Fact Sheet” released by the Ministry of External Affairs and other Quad partners, the billion vaccines planned would be manufactured at a Hyderabad-based private company “Biological E” (BE), with U.S. support. 

“The United States, through the DFC (US International Development Finance Corporation, will work with Biological E Ltd., to finance increased capacity to support Biological E’s effort to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022 with Stringent Regulatory Authorization (SRA) and/or World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL), including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” said the fact sheet jointly released after President Biden met with PMs Modi, Morrison and Suga on Friday in a virtual conference. In addition, Japanese development aid agency JICA would provide concessional loans for the effort. 

BE’s website says the company has supplied “more than 2 billion doses” of various other vaccines in the past decade, indicating that its capacity would need to be considerably ramped up in order to provide a billion doses within about 20 months. However, it is understood that the pricing of the vaccines, likely to run into billions of dollars, would be worked out once production was under way. 

Officials said that the vaccine goals had been committed to by the four leaders, and procurement will be done by the “existing funding available for vaccines such as from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, and bilateral arrangements with donor countries”. The scale of the exercise is being compared to the massive mobilisation that Quad countries had carried out when the grouping first came together to carry out Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) after the devastating ‘Asian tsunami’ in 2004.

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