Details regarding the quantity set aside for India yet to be revealed.
The U.S. will work with the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) program as well as its partners to decide how to allocate the 80 million doses of vaccine it is sending to other countries over the next six weeks. India, which is currently the global epicentre of the pandemic, is expected to receive a significant share of these vaccines, but administration officials have not released actual numbers.
“We’re looking at how we can get maximum coverage, because, I think, as all of you would agree, that demand exists everywhere,” Gayle Smith, the U.S.’s Coordinator for Global COVID Response and Health Security, said on a briefing call with reporters on Wednesday. “We’re consulting closely with COVAX, which, as you know, is the largest vaccine delivery platform in the world and that is focused on , in particular, low income and low-middle income countries and with our partners ,” she said.
Ms Smith referred to COVAX as “an absolutely critical and the central platform” for vaccine allocation.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, on Tuesday, said vaccine allocation decisions would be made based on ‘equity’, in response to a question on whether India would be a recipient of the vaccines. The U.S. has deployed around $100 million in assistance to India during this current wave of the pandemic.
“We, of course, will be making decisions based on equity. We are providing these vaccines in a transparent manner with the global community through COVAX and also through direct relationships,” Ms. Psaki said.
While India could theoretically use some of the vaccines it will produce as part of a Quad (India, the U.S., Australia and Japan) plan to supply at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Indo-Pacific by the end of 2022, the actual decisions will be taken based on ground conditions at the time, as per Ms Smith. Biological E, a Telengana-based pharmaceutical company, is collaborating with Johnson & Johnson to produce the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine under the Quad plan.
“Given the timeline for that production, I think its dispensation will depend to a great extent on the state of play around the world with vaccine coverage. That timeline is fairly extended. So, I think, while in principle those doses are available for internal use, but also for export to the rest of the world, the final allocation or plan for that will depend on what conditions we’re facing at the time they’re available, ” Ms Smith said in response to a question from The Hindu.