2 min read.Updated: 13 Mar 2021, 07:57 AM ISTAgencies
The so-called 'Quad' group of four countries will expand global vaccinations and counter China's growing vaccination diplomacy in Southeast Asia and around the world. India is the world's biggest vaccine maker
Leaders of the United States, India, Australia and Japan agreed to pool financing, manufacturing and distribution capacity to send 1 billion Covid-19 vaccines across Asia by the end of next year, India's foreign secretary announced on Friday.
The so-called "Quad" group of four countries want to expand global vaccinations and counter China's growing vaccination diplomacy in Southeast Asia and around the world. India is the world's biggest vaccine maker.
The collaboration was "most pressing and valuable", foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told a news conference in India's capital New Delhi after the four-way virtual summit.
"The four countries have agreed to a plan to pool their financial resources, manufacturing capabilities and capacities, and logistical strengths so as to ramp up the manufacturing and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region," he said.
"We believe this will speed up the process of post-pandemic recovery and enable families and businesses to put the COVID-19 crisis behind them."
India's formidable vaccine production capacity will be expanded with support from the three other nations to assist countries in the Indo-Pacific region, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, after the 'Quad' leaders' summit.
India will use its manufacturing capacity to make US vaccines, with financing coming from the US International Development Finance Corporation and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
Australia will finance training and provide last-mile logistical support for the distribution of vaccines, he added, that will predominantly go to the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia and countries in the Indian Ocean.
The initiative, however, may be hampered by US export restrictions on critical raw materials for India's vaccine supply chain.
Shringla said the issue is a bilateral one with the United States that has been raised by India's ambassador in Washington.
"Consideration is being given to this very important point," he said, without elaborating.
The tie-up will not impact the production of vaccines for India's 1.4 billion people, Shringla added.
India's call for free, open & inclusive Indo-Pacific region
In a series of tweets, PM Modi reiterated India's call for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
"Had fruitful discussions with President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and PM (Yoshihide Suga) @sugawitter at the first Quad Summit. Reiterated India's commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific in line with our vision of SAGAR - Security and Growth for All in the Region," Prime Minister wrote in a tweet.
"United in our fight against COVID-19, we launched a landmark Quad partnership to ensure accessibility of safe COVID-19 vaccines. India's formidable vaccine production capacity will be expanded with support from Japan, US & Australia to assist countries in the Indo-Pacific region," he added.
Prime Minister Modi said that the quad would be a positive force for global good and for peace in the region.
"Our discussions today on vaccines, climate change, and emerging technologies make the Quad a positive force for global good and for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," he said further.
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