India has said its vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting the COVID-19 crisis, which has highlighted gaps in global cooperation and underlined the need for the international community to respond to the pandemic with collaboration and not confusion. Addressing the UN General Assembly special session on COVID-19, Secretary (West) in India’s Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said on Monday the ongoing coronavirus crisis had "laid bare" the gaps that exist in global cooperation and governance structures of multilateral organisations.
"It is important that we make reformed multilateralism our guiding principle. It is imperative that we must join hands to show leadership, solidarity and collaboration to deal with the pandemic. We can respond best by collaboration, not confusion; preparation, not panic and coming together, not growing apart," he said.
"As a responsible member of the international community, I want to reiterate that India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis. India will also help all the countries in enhancing their cold chain and storage capabilities for the delivery of vaccines," Swarup said at the resumed special session.
World leaders, top UN leadership and vaccine developers addressed the high-level special session early this month on COVID-19 and discussed the impact of the pandemic, as well as the multifaceted, coordinated response required to address the crisis.
Swarup told the UN session that to combat the pandemic, India has several vaccines, which are under different stages of development.
Indian vaccine candidates COVAXIN and ZyCoV-D are under phase three and phase two trials, while Indian vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India is already conducting final testing of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVISHIELD vaccine, he said.
"India is recognised as a world leader in vaccines, as we produce 60 per cent of vaccines globally and have a record of supplying high quality, affordable vaccines to the developing world," he said.
"During the unprecedented crisis faced by the world, India emerged as a net provider of health security and successfully shouldered its responsibility as the pharmacy of the world, sending consignments of medicines and medical supplies to almost 150 partner countries,” he said.
Swarup stressed that while it was heartwarming to note that efforts to combat the pandemic had yielded positive results, there is still a long way to go.
"No one is safe till everyone is safe. This should be our mantra. In this context, the role of the United Nations becomes important towards coordinated and concerted efforts to deal with the multi-dimensional impacts of the pandemic," he said.
Highlighting India's “timely and proactive” response to the pandemic, Swarup said calculated measures by the country were designed not just to protect its huge population from the pandemic but also to ensure that minimal damage is caused to the economy.
He said the initial phases of the lockdown gave India the critically needed time to ramp up its healthcare system and equip it with sufficient hospital beds, isolation facilities, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), testing kits and other medical devices as well as with trained medical staff across the country.
Within two months of the pandemic, India expanded its diagnostic facilities from just one major facility for pan-India testing to more than 2,000 today.
From having almost no domestic manufacturing of PPE kits, India today has become the second-largest manufacturer of PPEs, he added.
More than 17,000 dedicated COVID-19 facilities were set up with 1.6 million isolation beds and digital tools such as the Aarogya Setu app were developed and are being effectively used for extensive contact tracing, he said.
Swarup said the government had also been doing its best to ensure that the economy and the livelihoods of the people are not adversely hampered.
The Narendra Modi government announced a massive USD 266 billion stimulus package, amounting to almost 10 per cent of India’s GDP directed at helping low-income groups, marginal farmers, small businesses, migrants and those in the informal sector.