US ban on export of vaccine material hampering production in India: CPI(M)

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New Delhi, Apr 17 (PTI) The CPI(M) urged the US on Saturday to lift its ban on the export of vaccine material, alleging that it has hampered the production of vaccines in India due to a shortage of such materials.

In a statement, the politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the stand of the Joe Biden-led US administration is one of 'doublespeak'.

'The scaling up of vaccine production in India is being hampered by the shortage of the intermediate material required for vaccine production. Much of this material such as filters, solutions and plastic bags come from the United States. But the US administration has banned the export of vaccine material under its Defence Production Act.

'Despite requests by the Indian authorities, no relaxation or exemption has been given for the export of these items. The biggest vaccine manufacturer in the country, the Serum Institute of India, has been drawing attention to this problem for quite some time,' it said.

Accusing the US of 'doublespeak', the Left party pointed out that at the Quad summit held on March 12, a joint statement issued by the member-countries stated: 'We will join forces to expand safe, affordable and effective vaccine production and equitable access to speed up economic recovery and benefit global health.' Further, the US promised to finance production of vaccines by an Indian company, Biological E Limited, to help India become a hub of vaccine production in the Indo-Pacific region, it said.

'The ban on exports of materials used in vaccine production goes completely against these stated aims. The (Narendra) Modi government, which sets much store on the Quad alliance, must ensure that the Biden administration keeps to its committed word and immediately ensure the supply of essential vaccine material to India. This is the least that must be done when India is facing a vaccine shortage in the face of an unprecedented surge of COVID infections,' the CPI(M) said.

India, the US, Australia and Japan are the member-countries of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition.

A record single-day rise of 2,34,692 cases and 1,341 fatalities have pushed India's COVID-19 tally to 1,45,26,609 and the death toll due to the viral disease to 1,75,649, the health ministry said on Saturday.

The number of active coronavirus cases in the country has surpassed the 16-lakh mark, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.

Registering a steady increase for the 38th day in a row, the tally of active COVID-19 cases has climbed to 16,79,740 in the country, accounting for 11.56 per cent of its total caseload, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 87.23 per cent. PTI ASG RC