New Delhi: Amid a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country, an Indian think tank has urged US President Joe Biden's administration to ease the global vaccine supply chain.
Carnegie India, Indian think tank urged the US administration to "consider exceptions" to the Defense Production Act (DPA) and ease the global vaccine supply chain. The DPA was first invoked by former US President Donald Trump in 2020 with the outbreak of the pandemic and Biden is now continuing it.
"In April 2020, then US President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), a law that grants the US President significant emergency authority to direct domestic industries. As Trump made clear, the order was meant to "save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators." In February 2021, Biden announced a set of plans to hasten inoculations. In March 2021, Biden vowed that vaccines will be available for "every adult in America by the end of May," said the Indian think tank.
It further stated, "In the case of Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as manufactured by the Serum Institute for domestic use in India, the DPA has restricted the supply of essential ingredients. As worryingly, many more such crucial ingredients for Covovax, the vaccine co-developed by the Serum Institute along with the global biotechnology company Novavax, have been reserved for the domestic market in the United States. In sum, over a dozen items desperately needed for vaccine manufacturing in India currently fall under the purview of the DPA."
"India is a partner of the United States like none other. Today, it is a country in need of a more supportive American approach to supply chains. This is a request to the United States administration to seriously, urgently, and actively consider exceptions to the DPA. Such an action will, in time, not only save lives in India and other large parts of the world that have been reliant on vaccines manufactured in India, but will also reassure the world's largest democracy of the promise of a truly global America."
It also noted that Biden should "urgently" resort to upholding the values of "true internationalism that he and his administration hail as a global promise for the future".
"The United States has adequate supplies and more. It is now time to relax the prioritisation measures and products that fall under the purview of the DPA," it said.
As per the think tank, "India is currently facing an acute vaccine shortage. On April 19, the Indian government announced that Indians above the age of eighteen will be eligible to get their shots. Making sure that the tens of millions of Indians are able to access vaccines is the only way in which a country as geographically challenging as India will be able to turn the tables on this fast-moving disease."
India on Saturday recorded 3,46,786 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day spike since the pandemic broke out last year.
The article, addressed to the Biden administration, was written by Arvind Gupta, director of the Vivekananda International Foundation, Rudra Chaudhuri, director of Carnegie India, Harsh Pant, director of studies and the head of the Strategic Studies Programme at the Observer Research Foundation, Reuben Abraham, CEO of the IDFC Foundation and IDFC Institute, and Nitin Pai, co-founder and director of the Takshashila Institution.