US, Japan, India, and Australia to announce vaccine production deal

File image: Several poor countries across the world are facing shortage of Covid-19 vaccines


Joe Biden
 and other countries of the Indo-Pacific alliance, also known as Quad, are expected to announce a deal to expand Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity in India after their virtual summit on Friday.

According to two senior officials of the US administration, who spoke before the meeting, the effort by Quad is projected to allow India to increase manufacturing capacity by one billion doses by 2022, with the country already known as the pharmacy of the world.

Over the past few weeks, there have increasingly been calls for wealthy nations including the US to donate vaccines to poorer countries. President Biden has also received requests from allies, including Canada and Mexico, to buy vaccines made in the US. But the Biden administration has emphasised that the US’s focus is on first vaccinating all its citizens.

This is significant even as countries such as China, Russia and India have indulged in vaccine diplomacy, sharing jabs with many neighbours and allies. The US officials, however, have pointed towards the US’s $4bn (£2.8bn) commitment to COVAX, an international effort to ensure Covid-19 vaccines get to developing nations.

Mr Biden has recently said: “If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world.”

The virtual meeting of the four leaders is also expected to announce several other measures on common interests.

Biden administration officials said that bringing together India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison, and Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga so early in the new US administration was intentional.

The Indo-Pacific alliance has received a serious boost from all four nations on the common agenda to counter China, both in terms of economy and security. The efforts to reinforce Quad has not gone unnoticed by Beijing hich terms it an attempt by the four nations to contain it.

All the four nations have witnessed a deterioration of their relations with Beijing over the years, whether because of economic issues, border disputes or Covid-19. For instance, the India-China border stand-off in Ladakh is yet to be fully resolved while the US and China are clashing over a range of issues including the US’s support for Taiwan.

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