Jaishankar in the US next week on a vaccine mission for India.
FACED with a massive vaccine shortage in a raging second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, the government will send Foreign Minister S Jaishankar to the US next week to meet with top officials and manufacturers of vaccines to sign supply agreements.
President Joe Biden announced five days ago that the U.S. will begin shipping 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccines to countries in need by the end of June, in addition to 60 million injections of AstraZeneca.
The details of the distribution are not yet clear, but India is likely to be one of the beneficiaries. AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is being manufactured and distributed in India as Covishield, has not yet been licensed for use in the US with several irregularities coming to light at the Baltimore plant where it is manufactured alongside the vaccines. J&J.
Sources told The Indian Express that Jaishankar’s mission, during his May 24-28 visit, will be “to persuade the United States to send as many vaccines as possible to India and its neighbors.” Recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, AK Abdul Momen, approached Jaishankar to pressure the United States in this regard. Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives have also been asking for vaccines.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said: “In New York, he (Jaishankar) is expected to meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In Washington DC, he will hold talks with his counterpart, the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken. He will also meet with cabinet members and senior administration officials who deal with the bilateral relationship. ”
The Foreign Minister will also participate in two interactions with business forums on economic and Covid-related cooperation between India and the United States, according to the statement.
Jaishankar, who met Blinken on the sidelines of the G-7 Foreign Ministers meeting in London earlier this month, had recently interacted with the U.S. Global Task Force on Pandemic Relief through a video conference. He spoke with CEOs about their support for the Indian efforts.
The Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, laid the groundwork for Jaishankar’s visit, who held a series of meetings with senior US officials, including CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, US President’s Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, USAID Administrator Samantha. Gayle Smith, coordinator of the US Department of State.
Over the past few weeks, Sandhu has also held meetings with vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and J&J President and CEO Alex Gorsky, and suppliers of raw materials for drugs like Remdesivir and vaccines like Covishield..
On Thursday, MEA official spokesman Arindam Bagchi said that India is engaged with US entities for the procurement of Covid vaccines and their possible manufacture in the country.
“Of course, we have taken note of the recent announcement by the US government of its intention to make some vaccines available to some other countries,” Bagchi said. “I would like to emphasize that all vaccines that can be purchased abroad should comply with our regulatory guidelines. I understand that the United States has also indicated that any vaccine it sends abroad will be after obtaining clearance from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for product quality, ”he said.
Recently, the Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy, Daniel B Smith, had said that the US was looking for joint production of J & J’s Covid vaccines in India and ways to help manufacturers like the Serum Institute of India to boost production.