A beautiful blossom for our oh-so-close-to-lockdown-easing here in the UK.
But spare a thought for India, home to the world’s largest coronavirus vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (SII) but now also home to the worst surge in coronavirus since the pandemic began. It’s complicated, but this end-March Guardian article reports:
India’s foreign ministry and the Serum Institute of India … has partnerships with AstraZeneca, the Gates Foundation and the Gavi vaccine alliance to make up to 1bn doses for poorer countries … . India’s programme of “vaccine maitri” (vaccine friendship) in which it has sold or given away more coronavirus vaccines than it has administered at home, has been praised by some locally as a diplomatic success.
The National Geographic also reported, in late April, that:
India increased its oxygen exports to other countries by a 734 percent in January 2021 [but that] a briefing by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, says India’s daily COVID-19 cases are now double the number in the previous peak in September 2020.
The G7 needs to agree to make vaccines free to poorer countries and / or temporarily lift patents on vaccines, following Joe Biden’s lead, so they can be manufactured locally. This 6 May Guardian article unravels the knots, and writes:
The former British prime minister Gordon Brown, now a UN global ambassador and a leader of the campaign to equalise access to vaccines, said: “I welcome the US decision on temporary patent waivers, which makes the Covid-19 vaccine accessible. Now we must make the vaccine affordable. No one is safe until everyone is safe and on 11 June at the G7 leaders meeting, the richest countries should make the momentous decision to pay two-thirds of the $60bn (£43bn) cost of vaccinating the world.”
So now is surely the time to unite and make sure that poorer countries including India – the country that has exported so many vaccines and so much oxygen to help others – be allowed to keep (and manufacture) their own vaccines until all the world’s people are safe.