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US confirms lifting of ban on vaccine raw material supplies

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Agencies Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla The US on Wednesday informed India it has lifted all restrictions on exports of materials and components for production of Covid-19 vaccines, raising hopes of supply of raw material sought by New Delhi.

This was among a wide range of issues discussed when Daniel B Smith, charge d’affaires at the US Mission to India, called on foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla here, people aware of the development told ET.

The two officials discussed the impact of the Joe Biden administration’s recent decision to remove Defence Production Act priority ratings on AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sanofi vaccines.

The move would let companies take their own decision on to whom they want to sell their vaccines. Also, US-based companies that supply these vaccine manufacturers can now make their own decisions on which orders to fulfil first.

The issue of supply of vaccine raw material had figured prominently during external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s USA trip last month.

Smith has informed Shringla that supply of vaccine raw materials to India will now be left to devices of the market and that some shortage is being felt because of problems in global supply chains, sources said.

Smith also said the US is working out details of the 25-million first tranche of government-to-government supply of vaccines.

This was the first high level Indo-US meeting since the Biden administration announced to send 25 million doses abroad including seven million for South and Southeast Asia including India. US NSA had mentioned that India is a priority.

Shringla on his part raised the issue of visas, including student visas, to the USA. It is understood that Smith informed that the USA side is examining opening appointments for students as early as possible to enable timely travel coinciding with university opening.

Following the meeting, an external affairs ministry spokesperson tweeted, “Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla had a productive meeting today with US Acting Ambassador Daniel B. Smith @USAmbIndia about India-US relations, regional issues & cooperation in the UN; also discussed Covid-19 situation, supply of vaccines and cooperation in combating the pandemic.

Source: indiatimes.com

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