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Aug 12, 2020 / 14:36

India: A responsible global member in Covid-19

International experts said that India has set aside differences for a very good cause.

Since the spread of the novel coronavirus globally, India on March 15 convened a video conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) states to collectively rein in the threat of the pandemic.

 India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at SAARC Summit on March 15. Photo: PTI

In the summit chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India pledged US$10 million toward a Covid-19 emergency fund that will draw voluntary contributions by all members namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

India announced that it would be putting together a team of specialists for the SAARC states with Indian Rapid Response Teams of doctors, health professionals, and testing equipment.

It also included online training capsules for emergency response staff using the model India used to raise capacity of emergency staff across India; a review video conference of doctors and medical professionals to consider specific measures and best practices; and a review video conference of trade officials to consider the impact of travel restrictions on intra-regional trade.

India's proposal now is a positive move toward smooth South Asian integration that is more effective when institutions set powerful demonstrations by helping countries in need.

Brabim Karki wrote for The Diplomat that the move signaled India’s willingness for dialogue, setting aside all differences for a very good cause.

Shortly after the WHO described the spread as pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 15 took the first step by inviting its immediate neighbors of South Asia for a first virtual meet. This is in line with India’s “Neighborhood First Policy”.

Modi said “We can respond best by coming together, not growing apart, collaboration, not confusion, preparation not panic.”

Dependable international partner

India appears in a broader way a trustworthy partner of the global community.

In terms of pharmacy, its medicines are available in appropriate 150 countries while 62% of vaccines and 20% of global generic drugs are sourced from India, according to Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Pranay Verma.

In the neighborhood, India is sending the drug to Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh Nepal, the Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, according to PTI.

In the face of Covid-19, it has granted assistance to South Asia, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean while it bridged between developed and developing world in healthcare and pandemic response.

It is followed by using e-ITEC to share clinical management and therapeutic experience in 10 courses with 800 medical professionals involved.

In addition, its all medicine exports are opened to keep global supply chains open and free.

Vaccine production

 India-made COVAXIN vaccine. Photo: Telangana Today

In India, private sector meets nearly two-thirds of healthcare needs of people. In addition, most of the healthcare goods like drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tests, biomedical equipment, among others, are supplied by the private sector.

India’s two homegrown vaccines COVAXIN developed by Bharat Biotech and ZyCov-D by Zydus Cadila have now been given the go-ahead to start phase II of their experimental vaccine trial.

While COVAXIN was the first Indian vaccine to be issued the go-ahead for the advent of clinical trials in the first week of July, ZyCOV-D was the first vaccine to head to the trials.

While both Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila have not commented on the announcement yet, early reports suggested that the vaccines have been showing promising results, so far, according to Times of India.

Regarding the production of vaccines against Covid-19, Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Pranay Verma said it’s not India’s pharmaceutical capacity but the country’s efforts to develop products that can save many lives amid the global health crisis.