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NEW DELHI: Hyderabad-based Biological E Ltd will manufacture 1 billion doses of covid-19 vaccines including one developed by Johnson & Johnson under the Quad Vaccine Partnership announced on Friday, a White House press note said.

The note was issued after the first summit of the leaders of Quad countries – US, India, Australia and Japan. It comes in the face of a China that is seen as rising fast and being aggressive towards neighbours with territorial disputes and employing coercive tactics with trade partners.

The summit on Friday was a virtual one with Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla later telling reporters that an in-person meeting of the Quad leaders would happen later this year.

The Quad Vaccine Partnerhsip, under which the four countries will pool in their strengths and resources for global good, is seen as the key and concrete takeaway from the leaders’ summit.

“The United States, through the DFC (Development Finance Corporation), will work with Biological E Ltd., to finance increased capacity to support Biological E’s effort to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022 with Stringent Regulatory Authorization (SRA) and/or World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL), including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," the statement said.

Biological E Ltd is the largest manufacturer of tentanus vaccines and snake venom antidote in India.

“Japan, through JICA( Japan international Cooperation Agency), is in discussions to provide concessional yen loans for the Government of India to expand manufacturing for COVID-19 vaccines for export, with a priority on producing vaccines that have received authorization from WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) or Stringent Regulatory Authorities," the US statement said.

“Quad partners will ensure expanded manufacturing will be exported for global benefit, to be procured through key multilateral initiatives, such as COVAX, that provide life-saving vaccines for low-income countries, and by countries in need," it said.

Quad countries “will also cooperate to strengthen ‘last-mile’ vaccination, building on existing health-security and development programs," it said.

“Australia will contribute $77 million for the provision of vaccines and ‘last-mile’ delivery support with a focus on Southeast Asia, in addition to its existing commitment of $407 million for regional vaccine access and health security which will provide full vaccine coverage to nine Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, and support procurement, prepare for vaccine delivery, and strengthen health systems in Southeast Asia.

Japan would assist vaccination programs of developing countries such as the purchase of vaccines and cold-chain support including through provision of grant aid of $41 million and new concessional yen loans, ensuring alignment with and support of COVAX, the statement said.

The Quad Vaccine Experts Group, among three groups on different subjects announced on Friday, will “use science and evidence to design an implementation plan for the Quad COVID-19 vaccine effort," it said.

Identifying hurdles affecting vaccine administration in the region, working with financers and production facilities to monitor timely and sufficient capacity expansion and identifying practical cooperation on “last-mile" delivery for hard-to-reach communities in need are some of the tasks the working group will be responsible for.

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