The US Department of State on Thursday (local time) said that the increased manufacturing capacity of COVID-19 vaccines in India has the potential to be a ‘game changer’ well beyond the country’s borders, which is why an arrangement to provide support to India and increase its manufacturing capabilities was reached.

The US is set to allocate the first tranche of 25 million COVID-19 vaccines globally to address potential surges and the needs of the most vulnerable countries affected by the pandemic, including India.

While responding to a query on the decision taken during the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – the Quad – to increase India’s capabilities of vaccine manufacturing, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price at his daily briefing said: “…The increased manufacturing capacity in India, the volume of capacity that is – has potential there, has the potential to be a game changer well beyond India’s borders, and that’s precisely why this arrangement was reached and announced in the context of the Quad.”

“But…it’s important to us because India has suffered immensely from the outbreak there. Virtually no element of Indian society has been left untouched by this horrible, horrible scourge. And so that is why we have – even before this announcement today, we have spoken of the focus on increased manufacturing in India but also the bilateral support that we have provided to India as a means to help the country address this,” he added.

In March this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India’s formidable vaccine production capacity will be expanded with support from Japan, the US and Australia to assist countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, the State Department spokesperson also said that around USD 500 million dollars have been put in this initiative by the US government to provide support to India and increase its manufacturing capabilities.

He also highlighted the contributions of top US officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken to galvanise the private sector in this initiative.

While responding to a query on the number of vaccines, Price informed that the US has a combination of 20 million COVID-19 vaccines available in the nation, while 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines are awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

He did not reveal any specific dose numbers allocated to a particular country under the new initiative.

“…The distribution of vaccines, of course, it depends somewhat on the manufacturer, but it is not as simple as putting a stamp on an envelope and sending it around the world. So there are logistical challenges associated with this, but we are moving as quickly as we can in an effort to get these vaccines to their destination countries as soon as we can,” he said at the briefing.

The US will be using the combination of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna in its global vaccine sharing effort to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, informed White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients.

Out of the 25 million vaccines, approximately 7 million vaccine doses will be supplied to Asian countries including India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The White House also said that it will lift Defense Production Act ratings on the AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sanofi COVID vaccines.

Meanwhile, President Biden made a commitment to ensure that India received doses and giving them, not just an allocation under the regional portion of this, through COVAX, but an additional allocation from the US’s discretionary portion, informed Sullivan. (ANI)