Covid vaccine procurement tops Jaishankar’s US visit

at 5:56 pm
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar arriving in New York on official visit.

New Delhi (NVI) Amidst a scramble to meet the huge shortage of Covid vaccines in India, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar reached the US today to meet some top ministers of the Biden Administration and the vaccine manufacturers to discuss how the country can receive greater supplies of the urgently-needed doses and raw materials.

In New York, Jaishankar is expected to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

After his stay in New York, he will travel to Washington where he will hold discussions with his counterpart US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and meet other Cabinet members and senior officials of the administration dealing with the bilateral relationship.

The External Affairs Minister will also engage in two interactions with business forums on economic and Covid-related cooperation between India and the US, said the MEA in statement prior to his departure.

Jaishankar landed in the US a week after President Joe Biden announced that the US will send 80 million doses of Covid vaccines to the needy countries.


Although he did not name any recipient country, it is expected that India would be one of the beneficiaries, considering that it helped the US last year with urgent supplies of Hydroxy Chloroquine medicine for treatment of Covid when the pandemic was at its peak in that country.


The US has expressed commitment to support India in fight against Covid. Even under the framework of four-nation Quad grouping, whose first Summit was held two months back, Biden had committed to help India become a hub of Covid vaccine manufacturer.


During his visit, Jaishankar is also expected to press the US Administration to push India’s proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for a waiver on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) related to Covid vaccines in order to ramp up its manufacturing.


India, along with South Africa, had made the proposal for waiver on October 2, last year, and it is since pending before the world trade body.


The US recently extended in-principle support to the proposal after which some other nations also favoured the move. In all 62 member countries of WTO are supporting the draft, which limits the waiver period to three years. However, several countries and major global drug manufacturing companies are resisting it.


In order to push the text-based negotiations on their proposal to waive certain provisions of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, India and South Africa have now decided to make more specific their request for a waiver by stating that it should focus on “health products and technologies”.

The revised proposal aims to increase global access to several crucial medical products to help countries more effectively tackle the contagious virus with affordable and accessible tools.

The draft, however, continues to push for a waiver on a wider segment of products as opposed to just Covid vaccines.

“The co-sponsors stress that the proposed waiver is limited in scope to Covid-19 prevention, treatment and containment,” said the draft circulated by the WTO Secretariat.


Besides India and South Africa, the co-sponsors include Pakistan, the African Group, the LDC Group, Bolivia, Egypt, Eswatini, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mozambique, Mongolia, Namibia, Vanuatu, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

According to the members, the draft proposal has been revised to add specificity to the original decision text, which was seen as being wide in scope.