'In talks with major pharma firms to source, locally manufacture COVID-19 vaccines'

New Delhi: Discussions are underway with major pharma companies about sourcing and possibly manufacturing their COVID-19 jabs locally while India is looking forward to WHO's nod for Bharat Biotech's indigenously developed vaccine, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday.

Addressing the World Health Organisation's South-East Asia Regional Health Partners' Forum on COVID-19 he also said the government has worked with key partners to ease regulatory disruptions to vaccine supply chains through diplomatic interventions.

India is fighting an "exceptionally severe" second wave of the contagion and it will participate in the process of creating global scale capacities that are needed to deal with pandemic-scale challenges, Shringla said.

He said a number of serious global conversations are underway on this in platforms such as the G7, G20, QUAD, BRICS, the United Nations and WHO itself.

India is also working with several other countries in the WTO on a targeted and temporary waiver under TRIPS to ensure timely and secure access to vaccines for all, the foreign secretary said. The country will participate fully in the international process of regeneration through building newer and more resilient supply chains by focusing on newer technologies, knowledge-driven opportunities and leveraging its strengths and capacities.

"We are also part of discussions with major vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and Moderna about sourcing and possible local manufacturing of their vaccines in India. We have also helped to expedite the introduction of the Sputnik-V vaccine.

"Vaccines have complex supply chains. We have worked to ease regulatory disruptions to these supply chains with key partners through diplomatic interventions. We are also looking forward to WHO's approval for India's indigenous vaccine made by Bharat Biotech," Shringla said. He said the COVID-19 pandemic is now well into its second year and India is fighting an "exceptionally severe" second wave.

"We have lived through a series of extraordinary stresses and shocks. We are dealing with unprecedented economic and social disruptions and distress."

Challenges of nature like the coronavirus pandemic require a response at multiple levels. Nationally, it requires not just a whole-of-government approach but a whole-of-society approach. It also is required that solutions and capacities are sourced globally basis, he said.

WHO is one of the key constituents in a global array of players dealing with the pandemic, the foreign secretary stressed.

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