India engaged with US entities for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines: MEA

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New Delhi, May 20 (PTI) India is engaged with American entities for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines from the US and their possible manufacturing in the country subsequently, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

Hit by a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, India has been focusing on ramping up domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines as well their procurement from abroad.

'We remain engaged with US entities on the prospect of procuring vaccines from the US and also perhaps manufacturing them in India subsequently,' Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.

'This would augment our vaccine availability. Once this is available, whether it is through procurement or subsequent manufacturing,' he said.

Bagchi also said that India has noted the announcement by the US on supplying COVID-19 vaccines to some countries.

The US announced earlier this week that it will share an additional 20 million coronavirus vaccine doses with other countries in addition to the 60 million it has already committed.

'We have, of course, noted the recent announcement by the US government of its intention to make some vaccines available to some other countries,' Bagchi said.

He said all vaccines to be procured from abroad would need to be compliant with India's regulatory guidelines.

'I would like to emphasise that all vaccines that may be procured from abroad would need to be as per our regulatory guidelines. I understand that the US has also indicated that any vaccines it sends abroad would be after obtaining FDA (Food and Drug Administration) clearance for product quality,' he said.

Recently, Charge D'Affaires of the US embassy Daniel B Smith said the US was looking at joint production of Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccines in India and ways to help manufacturers like the Serum Institute of India (SII) to boost production.

As India was facing a rapid increase in coronavirus infections, the US deployed six planeloads of life-saving supplies in support of the country's fight against the pandemic. The US government's assistance to India is estimated at about USD 100 million.

To a separate question, Bagchi said a large number of countries have expressed solidarity with India in its fight against the second wave of the pandemic.

He said around 40 countries have sent medical equipment and other supplies. PTI MPB ZMN

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