Minister of external affairs S Jaishankar defended India’s decision to export Covid-19 vaccines to other countries at a time when the cases are surging in the country. He also “pushed” the big countries to ensure smooth supply of raw materials needed for manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines in India.
“As a foreign minister, I’m pushing other countries, particularly some big countries, saying – look, please keep the raw materials flowing for vaccines to be made in India,” news agency ANI quoted Jaishankar as saying at a conclave.
“If you ask why are you exporting (vaccines) at all, somebody will ask – why am I exporting to India. That is so short-sighted. Only non-serious, irresponsible people can make that argument,” he added, according to ANI.
The Union minister highlighted the global supply chains saying the societies in general are not autonomous entities but rely on each other to survive.
“The fact is that there are global supply chains, very few things are made exclusively in one geography, very few societies can say we are autonomous of our reliance on others,” Jaishankar stated.
India’s largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India, who has been tasked with producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid shot, has been experiencing a crunch of raw materials. SII chief Adar Poonawala had taken to Twitter to request the American President Joe Biden to lift an embargo on the supply of raw materials, after the imposition of Defense Production Act (DPA), mobilizing American resources for domestic use only.
Jaishankar had defended India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ mission during the Raisina Dialogue. “International cooperation is not a one-way street – where we give to others and short change ourselves, I think people need to understand that,” he said on April 13.
He emphasized that the government has stepped back from its commitments to the world as times got tough and the domestic population had to be prioritized, adding that most countries understood.
“It’s not that we aren’t prioritizing our people. As things got tough, we spoke to the world and said – we tried our best to live up to commitments but please understand that we have a very serious situation at home and most countries understand that,” said Jaishankar.
India is a major vaccine contributor to World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, that aims to supply vaccines to poor and middle income countries.