APIndia and Japan have exchanged concrete suggestions to manufacture vaccines to take forward the Quadrilateral vaccine initiative which was agreed at the group’s March summit.
Japanese financial institutions besides other financial institutions would fund production of vaccines under the Quad initiative for the Indo-Pacific region and modalities for funding among other issues were discussed at the recent meetings.
Two key meetings of Quad were held in May with top officials from the Indian government for vaccine manufacturing and supply. High-level discussions were held on May 27 among senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and officers from Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with representatives from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
The May 27 meeting followed the May 19 meeting — the first meeting of Sub-group on Vaccine Delivery, Harmonization and Administration (and Science and Tech) and main group of Quad — to discuss the issues pertaining to ‘sources of finance for procurement and distribution & possible Quad mechanism for emergency vaccine supply in crisis situations’.
“In the specific context of JBIC, the decision was that DBT will facilitate JBIC’s talks with interested vaccine manufacturers so that the companies take direct funding from JBIC just as Bio E has done with DFC,” highly placed sources told ET. The issue of Quad vaccine initiative was also discussed when Foreign Minister S Jaishankar visited USA in May
The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) had announced in mid March, that it would finance one billion vaccine doses by Hyderabad based based firm- Biological E. The QUAD also sees India’s role in extending vaccine coverage in the neighborhood as imperative.
“QUAD’s vaccine diplomacy is critically dependent on India’s ability to produce and distribute Covid vaccines, an imperative. By September this year, India’s internal demand and supply of these vaccines is expected to be stabilised and then she will be in a position to resume export of Covid vaccines. They should target India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood on both sides of the Indian Ocean,” said Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, a leading think tank that deals with consumer rights and global trade including WTO.
A White House statement on March 12 had said that Quad was working collaboratively to achieve “expanded manufacturing of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines at facilities in India, prioritising increased capacity for vaccines authorised by Stringent Regulatory Authorities.”