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India Seeks Quad Alliance Funding To Match China’s Vaccine Momentum: Source | India News

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NEW DELHI / WASHINGTON: India has urged the United States, Japan and Australia to invest in its vaccine production capacity, an Indian government source told Reuters, as the so-called Quad alliance tries to counter China’s growing vaccine diplomacy.
Beijing has pledged to provide at least 463 million doses of its homemade Covid-19 vaccines through exports and donations around the world from Asia to Africa, Europe and Latin America, according to Reuters calculations.
Two senior Indian officials said the Quad alliance, which brings together the United States, Japan, Australia and India, was stepping up efforts to expand global vaccination to counter China’s growing soft power. India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, believes it is in the best position to lead the effort, they added.
When asked for comment, a spokesman for the US state department did not address the request for funds from India or China, but said Washington was deeply focused on expanding vaccination, manufacturing and delivery to world level.
“Secretary (Antony) Blinken spoke with his Quad counterparts on February 18 to discuss cooperation in response and recovery from Covid-19 and climate change, among other topics,” the official told Reuters.
There were no comments from the Australian government. But a government source said a global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic was a political priority for the country and its Quad partners. Australia is exploring a number of options to work with partners to enhance stability and prosperity in the region, the source said.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a news conference on Friday that the four countries discussed the “need and importance of international cooperation to ensure equitable access to vaccines for developing countries,” at the February meeting, but nothing was decided.
A spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
One of the two Indian sources, an official who has direct knowledge of the Quad alliance discussions, said the group had had several meetings on global vaccination.
“India has more vaccine options than any other Asian country at the moment,” said the source, who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the matter. “India expects Quad alliance members to pay to increase production.
A second Indian source said that at the February virtual meeting, the Quad countries discussed ways to “foster alternative medical supply chains, which implies less dependence on China.”
A major political advisory body in Beijing, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said concerns that China is using vaccines to influence other countries were “extremely narrow-minded.”
China’s purpose was to make the vaccines available globally, the Foreign Ministry said.
Billions of doses
Indian companies such as the Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat Biotech, Biological E, and Cadila Healthcare have the combined ability to either produce billions of doses of their own vaccines or manufacture them under contract for third parties.
SII, the world’s largest individual manufacturer, is producing the University of Oxford’s AstraZeneca vaccine for many countries and will soon start producing Novavax injections in bulk.
India is also trying to sell a vaccine created by Bharat Biotech and the state Indian Council for Medical Research to 40 countries, including Brazil, the Philippines and Zimbabwe. Bharat Biotech says it can produce around 700 million injection doses per year.
Indian vaccine manufacturers also plan to produce more Covid-19 vaccines developed by the United States and Russia, including Johnson & Johnson.
A senior Indian vaccine official told Reuters in January that the government had also held talks with US companies Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc about how to do their injections in India.
Serum’s Novavax association holds “the key to Quad’s diplomatic alliance on vaccines and taking China out of regional vaccine sales,” said one of the Indian sources.
“The focus is also on making sure the Quad alliance secures all the key markets for vaccines,” he said.
Indian companies will also produce around 300 million doses of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, but the source said Washington was not interested in helping expand Moscow’s influence on vaccines.

Times of India

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