EAM S Jaishankar Rejects Criticism Over Export of Coronavirus Vaccines

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday strongly rejected criticism over India’s export of coronavirus vaccines, saying there were global commitments for a variety of reasons, including for procurement of raw materials for production of the doses. At an online interaction, the external affairs minister said India prioritised vaccination of its people while describing those who questioned why the country was exporting at all as “non-serious” people. Several political leaders, including Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, slammed the government for exporting over 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccines when the country was reeling under increasing demands of the doses. The government has almost stopped export of the vaccines following a sudden spike in coronavirus infections.

In his address at the national leadership conclave of All India Management Association (AIMA), Jaishankar said as the situation became tough in India, the government apprised various countries about it and most of them understood. “Today as the foreign minister, I am pushing other countries, particularly some big countries, saying please keep the raw materials flowing for vaccines to be made in India.”

“Why am I doing that because the fact is that there are global supply chains; very few things are made exclusively in one geography, very few societies can say we are autonomous of our reliance on others,” he added.

He wondered if it would be possible for India to ask the world to keep its supply chain flowing towards the country and not share the end product. “Ask yourself this question, can I on one hand go round the world and tell, guys, keep your supply chain flowing towards me. And by the way, the end product of that supply chain, I am asking you for raw material, but I am not going to give you the vaccine,” he asked.

“As things got tough, we actually spoke to the world very honestly and said ‘look, we have done our best to live up to commitments; contractual commitments of producers, COVAX commitments. But right now please understand that we have this very serious situation at home and I think most countries understand that,” added. He also criticised those who questioned India’s overall vaccine exports.

“But if you get into why are you exploring abroad at all, then somebody else will ask why am I exporting to India. And that is so short-sighted. I think really irresponsible people, really non-serious people can make that kind of an argument,” he said. Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla on Friday requested US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on export of raw materials needed for the production of the Covishield vaccines in India. India is reeling under a massive spike in coronavirus cases. The country reported over 2.7 lakh infections in the last 24 hours.

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