Dec 02, 2020 Letters
India is viewed as the most important global player in the fight against the pandemic because of its capacity to manufacture vaccine and the research of its scientists racing to have ready vaccines to combat the virus. The world is turning to India now, when a few years back, they shunned it for the vaccine, even though the vaccine is not quite ready to be rolled out to inoculate people against the Coronavirus. Indian pharmaceutical companies is the hope for the pandemic world; in particular, the developing world of Africa, Caribbean, Asia, and much of Latin America since virtually none, other than Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, are experimenting with producing a vaccine. No African or Caribbean country is working on a vaccine. So they depend on India to make the vaccine available.
Several countries will begin rolling out their COVID vaccine next week, but they depend on India to produce it; billions of vaccines have been ordered from Indian pharmacies. The Indian government itself has ordered one billion indigenous developed vaccines that have not even been rolled out by Indian pharmaceutical companies experimenting with three vaccines in their final stages of trials on large numbers of humans.
There is a strategic global partnership emerging between India and key developed countries on the roll out of the vaccine as well as between Indian and major drug manufacturers in the West on the vaccine development. Scientists from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V all have an India link for experimentation by Indian scientists. And there is the Indigenous Indian BioNTech vaccine expected to be rolled out month-end of which there are also multi orders. Emergency authorization will be granted to vaccinate people with one of the above. Which is most efficacious will not be known until months after people have been vaccinated.
The three globally announced vaccines (on each from Germany, UK, US) will be ready for roll out next week but not enough doses for any country’s population. (Russia has rolled out its Sputnik vaccine over a month ago but is also lacking quantity to inoculate its people and has ordered 100 million doses from India). It will take years before the globe (7 billion people) is vaccinated. There simply aren’t enough vaccines to go around and manufacturers can’t catch up. Few countries manufacture vaccines. India is the world leader manufacturing 60% of the world’s vaccines in addition to supplying vaccines for its 1.35 billion people. Countries will have preference in orders (from India) and within each country, people will be prioritized on who gets the vaccine. Many countries are turning to India with billions of vaccines ordered by Europe and North America. Mumbai Shivaji International Airport is being readied to handle huge cargo planes laden with vaccines. Naturally, India will attend to the orders of friendly countries first before others but India has announced that no country will be blanked regardless of relations with India. Guyana has friendly relations with India, and it is expected to be treated with some deference in gaining access to the COVID vaccine, which its companies are experimenting with that will be ready by month-end for roll out.
Laboratories in India are working on 30 COVID vaccines with three in an advanced stage of development with one ready for roll out by end of this month and the other two in early January. The other 27 would be ready later in 2021. Even if it ready to vaccinate people by the end of December or early January, there is problem of manufacturing as Indian factories can only produce so many vaccines a day. Pharmaceutical factories cannot be set up that quickly to meet global demands.
The developed world can afford to pay for vaccine and have so ordered tens of millions of doses from several of the companies that claim to have workable vaccines. India itself ordered a billion doses of the one produced by its scientists. The poor countries may not afford to pay for the vaccines initially and would have to depend on WHO to pay for it. The WHO gets its funding from the wealthy countries. Eventually, the richer countries will have to pay for vaccines for the poorer countries. India has promised to share the vaccine with poor countries. And the Indian High Commissioner has announced that the Modi government is committed to making the vaccine available to Guyana. The two countries share very friendly cultural relations with over half Guyanese tracing their roots to India.
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