World Economic Forum | India right example for ensuring vaccine equity, stepping up manufacturing

General view of people walking past the World Economic Forum (WEF) logo during the forum in Davos, on May 23, 2022.

General view of people walking past the World Economic Forum (WEF) logo during the forum in Davos, on May 23, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Hailing India for ramping up its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing at the right time and for ensuring supplies to the rest of the world, leaders at the World Economic Forum on Monday said everyone else needs to follow the Indian model to ensure vaccine equity and wider inoculation.

India also assured the world that it was determined to become the global vaccine capital and it is now in a position to ensure adequate supply to other nations.

Jeremy Farrar, Director at Wellcome Trust, said India deserves huge credit for expanding its vaccine manufacturing capacity.

Seth F Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said commitments and plans were in place to ensure wider inoculation globally when the vaccines first got developed, but then some roadblocks came in the form of nationalism and export bans. However, those issues got resolved eventually, he added.

Berkley also cited the example of Indian manufacturers to drive home the point that there was a need for the industry to step up its efforts to widen the availability of vaccines.

Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said what worries her the most is the model that is in existence regarding vaccine equality and vaccine equity.

"The story of vaccine has been the story of contrast. The speed at which the vaccines were produced was indeed incredible, but somehow it couldn't reach all parts of the world, the under-developed and the poorer regions," she said.

Bucher said India has been a good example and the same needs to be followed by all for ensuring vaccine equality and vaccine equity and their availability for all.

Speaking in the same panel, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, "When the second wave hit India, and it was a disastrous wave, it was very important to take care of our huge population and at that time we had only two vaccine manufacturers." "Now, we have ten manufacturers, 14 other vaccines are in various stages of development and we are now determined to become the vaccine capital of the world. We also believe that no Indian is safe till the time everyone else in the world is safe and therefore we will ensure that we supply the vaccines to everyone and wherever they are required," he said.

Berkley also said technology transfer was done to India for two vaccines with an aim that the country could manufacture those jabs for its own population as well as for other countries, but that could not happen in case of one vaccine for some time.

To this, Kant replied that it happened because of the devastating second wave that hit India at that time and because it was the first large country to be impacted by the second wave.

The panellists discussed that from testing to treatments and vaccines, the world has got the tools to bring the pandemic under control but only if these are used properly and shared fairly.

They also discussed how leaders can ensure equitable supply of these tools to boost population immunity, protect health systems and enable economies to reopen.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said the world needs to be cautious about the emerging variants of the COVID-19 virus and while it was good news that Omicron was not as bad as the Delta variant, one should not relax as the next one could again be worse.

"What worries me is the impact of the pandemic on the learning ability of children and the time they lost in studies and the impact on the women. We will need to find some technological answers to all these worries," Kant added.

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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 12:29:02 am |