17 Mar 2021: COVID-19 vaccine: India raises raw material export kinks with US
India has raised the issue of hurdles in the export of raw material for COVID-19 vaccines with the United States.
Earlier, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla had said that limited export of vaccine raw material was impacting the production of their COVID-19 vaccine Covishield.
Notably, Covishield is being used in vaccination drives in India and elsewhere.
Details: Issue has been taken up: Foreign Secretary
India's Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, raised the issue of export hurdles with the US government.
Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla said it was a bilateral issue, adding that it has been taken up.
A source told News18 that there has been no assurance from the US side of any easing out. It is a work in progress, the source said.
Context: Poonawalla had earlier raised concerns over US Defence Production Act
According to Poonawalla, the US government's move to invoke the Defence Production Act could lead to a shortage of cell culture media, single-use tubing assemblies, and also some specific chemicals from the US.
Speaking at a World Bank panel discussion on March 4, the SII CEO had publicly said that invoking the Act was leading to the limited production of Covishield.
US: 'No ban,' says US NSA
On Friday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had said, "I do not believe there is a ban."
However, the Act allows companies to accept and prioritize contracts for services and materials deemed necessary for national defense.
This prioritization is presenting a hurdle in the export of key raw materials for vaccines as the US tries to meet its own targets.
Fact: Expediting manufacturing to ensure 100M shots: White House in February
After the Act was invoked, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said in February, "...it means our work is ongoing with companies to ensure we're expediting the manufacturing of materials to ensure that we can get 100 million shots in the arms of Americans."
Quote: 'Ending pandemic Biden administration's top priority'
A US embassy spokesperson in India told News18, "The Biden administration's top priority is saving lives and ending the pandemic. The Biden administration also recognizes that COVID-19 is a global challenge that requires a global response."
"The President is deeply focused on the issue of expanding global vaccination, manufacturing, and delivery, which will all be critical to ending the pandemic," the spokesperson said.