Quad has resilient, reliable supply chain of COVID-19 vaccines: Jaishankar

Singapore: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday lauded Quad’s– comprising of Australia, India, Japan and US– efforts in producing, distributing COVID-19 vaccines and said that the group has a “resilient, reliable supply chain”.

Speaking at a panel “Greater Power Competition: The Emerging World Order” at the Bloomberg New Economic Forum in Singapore, Jaishankar said, “It’s interesting, one of the initiatives under Quad (Australia, India, Japan and US) to jointly produce and distribute vaccines, which would be an American vaccine, made in India, Japanese will come in with a lot of financial support and Australians with a lot of logistics support.”

“For me, it’s decentralized globalization, a more resilient, reliable supply chain. More trust and transparency, but also more flexible combinations, sit down and produce solutions to particular challenges,” the minister said

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“If I look not just at vaccines, if you look at the pharma world, as a whole, there was a time when hydroxychloroquine was in high demand or paracetamol was also in demand. Actually, we had scaled up of 10 times, even 15-20 times for different medicines,” Jaishankar added.

He also shared India’s challenges during the pandemic and how strongly the country rebounded.

“It’s been a test for us, a lot of it was about our own survival, our own responses. I think we have come out of it very strong. Strong enough to be much more relevant for global public health needs,” said the minister.

“The biggest lesson would have been that we should have done a better job, building our own capacities. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had a programme that translates into building a self-reliant India,” noted Jaishankar.

Talking about the challenges, Jaishankar said that at the time of pandemic India had only two companies that were assembling ventilators and also lacked mask producers.

“At the time when COVID-19 hit us, we had two companies which were assembling ventilators. There was no N95 masks producer, we use to get valves from outside and make them. There was very little medical equipment’s. During that period, we had scaled up enormously. Today, when I look at I see health infrastructure that has grown up in response to COVID-19. We have literally set up thousands of COVID-19 treatment centres which will outlast COVID-19,” said Jaishankar.

He gave the example of India’s transformation in the health sector. “We have transformation in the health sector. We have shown that by the combination of digital tools and created production facilities that it is possible for a country which has per capita income of less than USD 2000 to actually reach out in a massive way in public health,” he added.

He also talked about India as a major vaccine production centre as well as its efficiency.

“The second takeaway for us is a positive takeaway, which is, why has India become a major vaccine production centre? Why is it that you have some vaccines, the same vaccines are produced in multiple countries, but Indian plants have a very high and efficient result? I think the quality of HR, the skills are there. The practices and traditions, a lot that has really been brought to bear on the COVID-19 issue. It has grown,” said Jaishankar.

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