Beyond India's Vaccine Diplomacy For Global Good
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist|February 2021
The outbreak of COVID-19 had and continues to cause a significant degree of hardship across the world.
Dr. Sripathi Narayanan

The most glaring impact of this pandemic can be gauged from the 3.5-per cent negative economic global GDP growth, as projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), along with a 2.4-million global deathcount, as per the WHO database. Apart from such discomforting statistics, COVID-19 has also dominated international affairs through 2020, continuing to the present. Starting with the US, nations joined hands to charge China – where the pandemic originated – with causing the pandemic, and also of concealing critical information. That phase soon gave way to locating testing kits in their millions, fi nding a vaccine – and sharing the same with the rest of the world.

The quest for global political infl uence was first played out in form of the supply of protectivegear, sanitizer and a host of medical equipment, including ventilators, and available medication. With the world stabilizing with that phase and pace, real politics began playing out in the quest for a vaccine – and domination in the field. This resulted in a motivated PR campaign that went beyond the scientifi c efficacy of individual vaccines being developed in diff erent nations, to political brinkmanship accompanied by active lobbying for one and discrediting disinformation against the other(s).

India’s Pharma Diplomacy

India’s role in developing and manufacturing the vaccine has only gone to reinforce the image of the nation as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’. The honour has been conferred by a number of world leaders including UN Secretary-General António Guterres. But it has been achieved not overnight, nor is it exclusively due to COVID-19. India has been a manufacturer of generic drugs and vaccines, and supplies 40-70 percent of WHO’s need for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and Bacillus Calmette Guerin vaccines, and about 90-per cent global demand measles vaccine. This, distinction thought was not achieved in a vacuum, either.

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