Pharma players flag issue of raw material availability for Covid vaccines in meeting with WTO chief

By: |
October 21, 2021 10:13 PM

The vaccine manufacturers also urged that foreign countries should not impose any kind of export restrictions on these raw materials, besides the issue of excess capacities, the sources added.

covid-vaccine-6The vaccine manufacturers also urged that foreign countries should not impose any kind of export restrictions on these raw materials, besides the issue of excess capacities (Photo: IE)

Indian vaccine manufacturers on Thursday raised the issue of easy availability of raw material from global markets for making COVID-19 vaccines, during their meeting with World Trade Organization (WTO) chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala here, sources said.

The vaccine manufacturers also urged that foreign countries should not impose any kind of export restrictions on these raw materials, besides the issue of excess capacities, the sources added. The meeting was attended by several players, including CII Southern Region Vice-Chairperson and Bharat Biotech Joint Managing Director Suchitra Ella; CII National Committee on Biotechnology’s Chairman and Panacea Biotec Managing Director Rajesh Jain; and Cadila Pharmaceuticals Executive Director (Research) Bakulesh Khamar. Syngene International Chief Operating Officer Mahesh Bhalgat; Biocon Vice-President Shefali Misra; and Drug Controller General of India V G Somani, also attended the meeting.

Recently, in New York, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has highlighted the requirement of international financial architecture to fight the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe and stressed the need to keep the supply chains open for vaccine raw materials.

India, the world’s largest producer of vaccines overall, suspended exports of COVID-19 vaccines in April to focus on inoculating its own population following a sudden spike in infections. Last month, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said India will resume the supplies abroad.

India has said that it will resume the export of surplus COVID-19 vaccines in the fourth quarter of 2021 under the ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme and meet its commitment to the COVAX global pool. COVAX is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the WHO.

In a separate meeting of the WTO chief with domestic industry leaders, issues which figured in the deliberations include Chinese subsidies to their industry and high logistics costs. “Industry suggested that the WTO should look into those subsidies and it should also have some provisions to deal with the issue of high logistics,” one of the sources said.

The industry meeting was organised by CII and the participants include the chamber’s President T V Narendran; Avaada Group Chairman Vineet Mittal; and Suzlon Group Chairman and MD Tulsi Tanti. They also include JK Tyre & Industries Chairman and Managing Director Raghupati Singhania; Somany Ceramics CMD Sreekant Somany; and Frontier Technologies Ashok Saigal.

The WTO Director-General is here on a three-day visit, which started on October 20, amid the forthcoming 12th ministerial conference of the organisation in Geneva. The 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) will take place from November 30 to December 3, 2021, in Geneva, Switzerland. It was originally scheduled to take place in June 2020 in Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MC is the highest decision-making body of the WTO. The last meeting was held in December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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