India will help create global capabilities to deal with pandemic

New Delhi, Jun 3 (FN Bureau) India will leverage its strengths and capacities focusing on newer technologies and knowledge-driven opportunities to deal with challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday. Saying that every crisis, empirically speaking, is followed by growth, he said India also will participate fully in the international process of regeneration through building newer and more resilient supply chains. “Going forward, we will participate in the process of creating global scale capacities that are needed to deal with pandemic scale challenges.

A number of serious global conversations are underway on this in platforms such as the G7, the G20, QUAD, BRICS, the United Nations and the WHO itself,” Shringla said while addressing the World Health Organisations Southeast Asia Health Partners Forum. India is working with several other countries in the World Trade Organisation on a targeted and temporary waiver of patents to ensure timely and secure access to vaccines for all. “We are also looking forward to WHO’s approval for India’s indigenous vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech.” The Foreign Secretary said that the so-called global system was seen as inadequate to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
And the new realities of the pandemic placed unprecedented demands on the Government of India, including the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which resorted to ‘pandemic diplomacy’. “We had to create, literally overnight, new capacities to try and cope with a Black Swan event. We have had to innovate, repurpose and to re-engineer and create an entirely new vertical for pandemic diplomacy,” Shringla said. Shringla said the MEA had acted as the global arm of the Government of India’s Empowered Group to procure essential raw materials and medical supplies for COVID-19. “We have, throughout the pandemic, identified and connected with potential suppliers of essential medicines, raw materials and medical equipment across the world… We were also part of the the effort to source medical products, machinery, and components that were vital for enhancing our domestic manufacturing capabilities such as components for ventilators, testing inputs such as RNA Extraction Kits, Roche Cobas testing machines, etc,” said the Foreign Secretary.

Stressing that challenges of the pandemic nature require not just a whole of government approach, but the whole of society approach, he said, “it also requires to source capacities and solutions on a global basis.” He said India is a part of the discussions with major vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna about sourcing and possible local manufacturing of their vaccines in the country. In the US, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu had talks with CEOs of top US pharma companies to help India get the required medical equipment and drugs to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. “Important conversation with CEO of Avantor, Michael Stubblefield, on strengthening the supply chains for vaccines in India. Appreciated Avantor’s support in providing critical healthcare items to ramp up vaccine manufacturing,” Sandhu said in a tweet.