Now, the Quad summit adds a new dimension. It will help support the creation of capacity at Biological E to make and supply 1 billion doses by 2022 in the Indo-Pacific region.
Bhushan also said Kerala has zero wastage of vaccine doses while on the other hand there are states which are registering 8-9 per cent wastage.
The Quad summit announcement happens at a time when the COVID-19 vaccine world is facing some of its most unique challenges. While India, which has been grappling with its own issues of rising COVID caseload and the long journey in the vaccination drive that still needs to be covered, the Quad summit puts India on an incredibly strong footing in the delivery of an intervention that is critical for the country and the world.
Already, the vaccines now approved and supplied by India apart from those that are to come have the potential to make a huge difference in many parts of the world.
While the Quad summit makes a specific mention of Biological E, the Hyderabad-based 68- year-old vaccine company, the fact that the two Indian companies – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have already been talking of exports, not only cements India’s position on the global vaccine map but also puts the spotlight on India’s role in the global COVID-19 vaccine programme. Already, Serum Institute alone, which got the Emergency Use Authorisation on 3 January 2021 and has so far supplied over 50 million doses to the Indian government (including some through the COVAX initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO). This is other than an equal amount that it has already exported which means so far the company has supplied more than 100 million doses.
Now, the Quad summit adds a new dimension. It will help support the creation of capacity at Biological E to make and supply 1 billion doses by 2022 in the Indo-Pacific region. This is crucial for India from a geo-political perspective also as it will help expand India’s influence in the Asian and East Asian region and contain the growing Chinese influence in the region. The United States in a statement issued by the White House says that the “US, through the United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC in quick speak), 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.”
While the initiative seems a focussed attempt to address a current need, what many in the vaccine world are also seeing are the seeds for long-term impact that may be also getting sowed. For instance, with this huge capacity creation at Biological E under this initiative and separately by different players in India on their own, it could open up scope to not just deal with COVID but in a post-COVID world leverage the capacities for other vaccines too. That may have to wait but a start seems to have been made. All eyes will now be on the speed of execution and supplies.