FM calls for free flow of materials essential for ramping up vaccine production

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (ANI)


Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday called for the need to enable India’s access to critical raw materials essential for ramping up India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity to fight covid-19 pandemic and also sought open sharing of vaccine technology.

“One critical point in ramping up production capacity is access to critical raw materials. Sometime though we talk about global value chains and the need for countries to open up trade to facilitate free movement of raw materials and critical APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients), we find the movement of critical raw material for production of vaccines is finding some hiccups. We would love that to be sorted out at the earliest,” she said speaking at the Governor’s Seminar on “Cooperation for a Resilient Future”, held as part of Asian Development Bank’s annual virtual meeting.

Sitharaman also said that countries have to be open about sharing vaccine based technology. “The TRIPS agreement will have to be looked at in the context of the pandemic. There cannot be anymore vaccine nationalism. Countries will have to be flexible about it,” she said speaking at the participated in the Governor’s Seminar on “Cooperation for a Resilient Future”, held as part of ADB’s annual meeting 2021.

In a submission before the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council of WTO on 2 October, India and South Africa along with 57 other members had co-sponsored a proposal for temporary and limited-scope waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement relevant to the prevention, treatment and containment of covid-19.

They held this would ensure that intellectual property rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyright, and protection of undisclosed information do not create barriers to timely access to affordable vaccines and medicines or to scaling up research, development, manufacturing, and supply of medical products essential to combat covid-19. The proposal has been discussed orally many times at the TRIPS Council but a consensus for a text-based negotiation has not been reached yet. While the US in recent days have indicated that it will positively review the proposal, it is yet to move any formal proposal on the matter at WTO.

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Sitharaman also spoke on the need for private sector and civil society for partnering with the government to achieve resilient growth. The Finance Minister mentioned how Indian vaccine developers have cooperated and provided vaccines to the government at reasonable prices. Private companies are also contributing under their corporate social responsibility obligations.

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