Vaccine Supply

Jaishankar admits ‘failure’ to fulfil commitments

Gautam Lahiri

21 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

New Delhi: Indian External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has admitted 'dishonouring commitments ' to supply Covid-19 vaccines to other countries as 'India is going through a particularly difficult situation right now'.

"The pandemic saw capabilities leveraged, commitments dishonoured, supply chains blocked, logistics disrupted and shortages created, with all the accompanying anxieties. When this applied to PPEs, medicines or ventilators, we all woke up to health security," he said while addressing the 'Future of Asia’ conference ' on Thursday.

"Those who saw their essential supplies under threat now realised the value of food security. When economies slowed down due to material disruptions, we now understood the need for manufacturing security. Call it buying nationally, middle-class concerns, dual circulation or self-reliance, there’s no question that many polities are seeking to hedge against excessive exposure internationally. Clearly, that means de-centralised globalisation, with multiple supply chains and more engines of growth. It’s only with such redundancy that the world can face the next pandemic better than we’re doing the current one," Jaishankar said.

In a weekly briefing, spokesperson of the ministry Arindam Bagchi reiterated India's position for vaccine supply to other countries as articulated by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla in his last briefing.

He clearly mentioned that India's priority is now to cater to domestic demand.

He acknowledged that about 40 countries, including Bangladesh, have come forward to help India with all kinds of medical help. “We’re in touch with the USA for procuring vaccines and subsequently manufacturing in India," he added.

The External Affairs Minister said, "A year and a half ago, as the enormity of the Covid-19 pandemic dawned on the world, we were truly confronted by a black swan event. Since then, even though we may have addressed some facets of a very complex challenge, it continues its devastating course across geographies. We, in India, are going through a particularly difficult situation right now. Understandably, the world’s attention is focused primarily on the public health response. The economic consequences of the pandemic were of course immediately felt, though its social ones are now also starting to be realized. What perhaps is yet to be fully comprehended is its long-term impact on the global order, including on the future of Asia."

Demanding a global response to combat pandemic, he said, “It demands international cooperation on a scale that could not have even be conceived of earlier. No national capacity, however large, can be adequate. And just overflows from such capacities are clearly not enough to address global needs. Even a collective response, by itself, could fall short if it is just an aggregate of the present capacities.”

Jaishankar further said: “What we will now have to conceptualise is re-engineering the way the world works to prepare for and mitigate such cataclysmic events. Covid-19 has certainly triggered debates on issues like supply chains, global governance, social responsibility and even ethics.”

 Replying to a query, the ministry spokesperson said the expansion of QUAD was never discussed in the last Foreign Ministers’ meeting of QUAD. "Therefore, India never asked Bangladesh to join the grouping.”

He also said Bangladesh has already commented on the comment made by China. “We have nothing to say on this issue."