The India-US-Japan-Australia Quadrilateral initiative, or Quad, at its maiden summit decided to build a first-of-its-kind joint vaccine supply chain to address the current and any future pandemic situations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Vaccines will be developed in the US, manufactured in India, financed by Japan and the US, and supported by Australia through logistics for the Indo-Pacific including island states, in a far-reaching move that could challenge the influence of China in the region.
“The summit saw Quad leaders adopt a positive agenda and vision. Focusing on contemporary issues such as vaccine, climate change and emerging technology … the four leaders are expected to meet in person later this year on the sidelines of a big multilateral summit,” foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters after the Summit, attended virtually by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, and PMs Scott Morrison of Australian and Yoshihide Suga of Japan.
The vaccine initiative will allow new manufacturing capacity to be added in India for exports to the Indo-Pacific region. “It will not impinge on India’s commitment for domestic consumption,” Shringla said. “We have an ambitious target to produce 1 billion vaccines by 2022,” the foreign secretary said.
India is a reliable partner in the global supply chain and received appreciation from the other leaders of the bloc of the democratic nations for providing vaccines to 70 countries under the Vaccine Maitri initiative, the foreign secretary said.
The countries have decided to pool their resources and proactive efforts are ongoing to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in the Indo-Pacific, he said.
Three working groups have been formed among the Quad member nations on vaccine implementation, critical technology and climate. Stating that India looks forward to being a part of the three working groups, the foreign secretary said: “These are articles of faith for India.”
This pooling of individual capacities and strengths by the Quad countries is aimed at expediting global vaccine delivery. It will help meet the demand-supply gap, focusing on the Indo-Pacific region. It will add momentum to ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic, pointed out people in the know of the plans.
India’s role in the Quad Vaccine Initiative will project and reinforce its credentials as a trusted, reliable manufacturer and supplier of quality vaccines. It will strengthen India’s standing as the “pharmacy of the world”, as a critical node in global health supply chains, he said.
Shringla said the Quad grouping has India's whole-hearted and unstinting support.
A joint statement released after the Summit called for building on the progress of countries achieved on health security and decided to join forces “to expand safe, affordable, and effective vaccine production and equitable access, to speed economic recovery and benefit global health”.
“...We will, therefore, collaborate to strengthen equitable vaccine access for the Indo-Pacific, with close coordination with multilateral organisations including the World Health Organization and COVAX ... We will combine our nations’ medical, scientific, financing, manufacturing and delivery, and development capabilities and establish a vaccine expert working group to implement our path-breaking commitment to safe and effective vaccine distribution,” according to the joint statement.
“We will launch a critical- and emerging-technology working group to facilitate cooperation on international standards and innovative technologies of the future; and we will establish a climate working group to strengthen climate actions globally on mitigation, adaptation, resilience, technology, capacity-building, and climate finance,” it said.
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