We count on India in fight against COVID-19, says UN chief

India is one of the world's best assets in the fight against COVID-19 because of its ability to supply the vaccines needed to fight the pandemic and the UN counts on it, according to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Arul Louis Jan 29, 2021
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India is one of the world's best assets in the fight against COVID-19 because of its ability to supply the vaccines needed to fight the pandemic and the UN counts on it, according to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“I think that the production capacity of India is one of the best assets the world has today, and I hope the world understands that it must be fully used,” he said on Thursday at his news conference.

“I would like to say how much we count on India. I mean, India has one of the most advanced pharmaceutical industries,” he said.

On Monday, India's Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti told the Security Council that his nation's vaccine-making capacity would be for “the benefit of the entire humanity.”

Guterres described the development of India as a pharmaceutical powerhouse as “a very important element of democratisation of access to medicines all over the world.”

Guterres said that the UN was in contact with Indian institutions regarding the vaccines produced by India.

“In India, there is a production, a very high level of production, both of Indian-developed vaccines, and I think there is a perspective, very important perspective, of also others,” he added.

“India played a very important role in the production of generics for use that was outside (the country),” he said.

Guterres reiterated his appeal "for licenses to be made available in order for companies around the world to be able to produce some of the vaccines that already exist.”

India and South Africa asked the World Trade Organisation last year for a waiver from patents and other intellectual property rights for materials needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic “until widespread vaccination is in place globally, and the majority of the world’s population has developed immunity.”

Guterres noted that most of the vaccine distribution had been in the developed countries and denounced “vaccine nationalism” as “an economic as well as a moral failure.”

“While every country has the right – and the duty – to protect its own people, no country can afford to neglect the rest of the world,” he said.

Western industrialised nations have all banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines, and as in the case of Britain the European Union squabbling among themselves. Only India, along with China and Russia, allow the export of vaccines.

Speaking at Monday's Security Council meeting on the implementation of its resolution on backing Guterres efforts to fight the COVID19 pandemic, Tirumurti said that India had already donated more than six million doses of the vaccine to nine countries and was in the process of sending contracted supplies to other countries.

It will also gradually supply to the World Health Organisation's COVAX programme to provide the vaccine to the poor nations. he said.

“As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, we are fulfilling our commitment to make vaccine production and delivery capacity available for the benefit of the entire humanity,” he declared.

Meanwhile, India was itself planning to vaccinate 300 million citizens in six months, he said.

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