As demand for the India-made Covid-19 vaccines gathers momentum in foreign countries, even China appears to have grudgingly accepted its South Asian neighbours domain expertise.
An article in the China Communist Party’s mouthpiece, Global Times, states: “Experts suggested that India’s vaccines are no less competitive than Chinese Covid-19 vaccines in both research and production capacity, considering that India has the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and lower costs in labour and facilities.”
The article quotes experts as saying that India’s plans to export the vaccine “could be good news for the global market given India’s competitive vaccine research and production capacity”.
But true to form the Global Times alludes to New Delhi as allegedly having a “political and economic motive” behind the move. The report sees New Delhi as using the India-made vaccine for political brand-building and countering the international influence of Chinese vaccines.
The report quotes Jiang Chunlai from Jilin University’s School of Life Sciences, who had visited Bharat Biotech, as saying: “Despite India’s reputation for generic drugs, the country is not behind China in vaccine R&D.”
“India has the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India that has a very mature production and supply capacity, even stronger than some Western countries. Indian vaccine manufacturers also have a much earlier cooperation with global institutes including WHO, GAVI and the Pan American Health Organization in South America (PAHO), and earned their trust decades ago,” Jiang said.
“They take a closer approach to Western standards in vaccine development and regulation that has also helped their exports,” Jiang added.
The Global Times has also quoted a BBC report saying India makes about 60 per cent of vaccines globally and many countries are eagerly waiting for it to begin shipping doses.
The report comes amid increasing acceptance of India-made vaccines in global markets. South Africa announced on Thursday that the country would get 1.5 million vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII), with a million coming in January and the remainder the following month.
Brazil is already in touch with New Delhi to place an order for India-made vaccines after being badly let down by the Chinese as reported earlier by Indanarrative.com. Various ASEAN countries including Malaysia have also placed orders for Indian vaccines.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to make the vaccine available to all humanity. India’s neighbours such as Nepal and Bangladesh and closest friends would, however, be given the first priority after setting aside the vaccine needed for people in the country.
According to sources, India will adopt the ‘HCQ model’ to give other countries access to Covid vaccines being manufactured in the country.
India had adopted the same format to make Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) available to friendly countries after studies indicated that the anti-malaria drug could be used as a prophylaxis. Besides sending HCQ supplies as assistance, India had commercially supplied half a billion HCQ tablets to 82 countries.