Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar has said that if a country is under stress and the numbers of those infected are going up, like in India, it is legitimate to repurpose production to where the immediate challenge lay.
However, to the extent a country has margins, the ability and the obligation to help others, it would be a decent thing to do as doing good is also doing smart, the Minister added speaking at the curtain-raiser session of Raisina Dialogue on ‘India, SDGs, Vaccines & Global Expectations’ on Tuesday.
“Now, in our case, our vaccine producers had some contractual commitments. They had commitments to Covax as you know, where we actually helped health workers in a number of African countries, with some of our own neighbours in South Asia, with the CARICOM and with the FIPIC. Because with small countries, it isn’t just the ability to buy, they don’t have actually the wherewithal to really access the market,” the Minister said.
With the number of fresh Covid-19 cases touching new highs, India is, at present, focussed on meeting the domestic demand for vaccines instead of responding to global demand for exports. While some in India have criticised the government for being generous with other countries earlier and exporting millions of doses of the vaccines instead of storing them from later use, many countries have expressed disappointment with the slowdown in supplies from India over the recent months.
Taking on those who have criticised India’s exports of the vaccines, the Minister said that those who question international cooperation, need to also understand this that India’s ability to make vaccines is itself a result of international cooperation. “International cooperation is not a one way street where we are giving things to other people and somewhere short changing ourselves. People need to understand that,” he said.
Part of India’s rise would be really to demonstrate additional capabilities in terms of vaccine manufacture and distribution. “And I think the world would be better served by those additional capabilities. Capabilities, which are in the hands of a country, which embraces the world, which actually, as I said, believes in international cooperation and whose heritage is to do that….” he said.