NEW YORK (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the United Nations on Saturday that his country's vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the COVID-19 crisis.
"As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today," Modi said in a pre-recorded speech to the U.N. General Assembly. "India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis."
Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials - the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy - and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.
Modi said in August that India was ready to mass produce COVID-19 vaccines when scientists gave the go-ahead.
U.N. chief Antonio Guterres has been pushing for a "people's vaccine" that is available and affordable everywhere and expressed concern on Tuesday that some countries were "reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations."
"Such 'vaccinationalism' is not only unfair, it is self-defeating. None of us is safe until all of us are safe. Everybody knows that," he told the General Assembly
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the General Assembly on Friday: "Whoever finds the vaccine must share it."
"Some might see short- term advantage, or even profit," Morrison said. "But I assure you to anyone who may think along those lines, humanity will have a very long memory and be a very, very severe judge.
"Australia's pledge is clear: if we find the vaccine we will share it. That's the pledge we all must make," Morrison said.
Pope Francis told the United Nations on Friday that the poor and weakest members of society should get preferential treatment when a coronavirus vaccine is ready.
India, the world's second most populous country after China, has recorded more than 5.8 million cases of COVID-19, second only behind the United States.
Its death toll as of this week was more than 90,000 and it has consistently reported the highest tally of daily cases anywhere in the world as a dense population and often rudimentary healthcare infrastructure hamper attempts to control the pandemic.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler)