India on Thursday said its stand on COVID-19 vaccine exports has been that it would depend on its domestic needs and asserted that right now the priority remains utilising made-in-India jabs for its own inoculation drive.
The assertion by Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came at an online media briefing in response to queries on media reports on possible exports of vaccines from India to Bangladesh.
"Our position on the issue of vaccine exports has been consistent and clear. We have always stated that overseas supply of vaccines from India would depend on vaccine availability and our domestic vaccination programme," Mr Bagchi said.
"For the moment our priority remains on utilising made-in-India vaccines for our own vaccination programme which as you know has received a boost with the new phase of vaccination that was launched earlier this week on June 21," he said.
Mr Bagchi said India is also making efforts to further increase its domestic vaccine production.
Asked when would Pfizer's vaccine be available in India, the MEA spokesperson emphasised that the government of India is making all efforts to augment vaccine availability in the country be it through domestic production or imports.
"As regards the specific vaccines and the status of their imports into India, this is a matter for the concerned regulatory authorities," he added.
Mr Bagchi also said India hopes that as the Covid situation in the country continues to improve, other nations would take steps to normalize travel with India.
"We have seen some initial steps in this regard. The government will continue to prioritise this issue," he said.
To a separate question on emergency use authorisation for Covaxin from the World Health Organization (WHO), the MEA spokesperson said, "We are closely following the developments regarding efforts by Bharat Biotech to obtain emergency use listing authorisation from the WHO."
Asked which countries have shown interest in using or adapting the CoWin application, the digital platform that helped India launch and implement a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme, Mr Bagchi pointed out that during his intervention at the recent G-7 meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered to share India's experience and expertise in the successful use of open source digital tools in contact tracing and vaccine management.
"In pursuance of this, the National Health Authority proposes to organise an event with partner countries across the world to share details of the indigenously developed CoWin app, which has been at the centre of our vaccination drive," he said.
"We will provide further updates once the details of the event have been firmed up," Mr Bagchi added.
Asked about the Ebrahim Raisi being elected as the president of Iran, sanctions by the US and the situation in bilateral ties, he said India has been closely monitoring the recent developments regarding Iran and its conversations with other countries.
"We will continue to look at this closely. I don't have an immediate response on that, we have seen some positive sentiments. We will continue to see how these progress," Mr Bagchi said.
He also highlighted the congratulatory messages from the Indian leadership to the newly elected Iranian president.
Asked when would India host the BRICS Summit this year, Mr Bagchi said he does not have any update regarding the proposed dates for the summit as yet.
On a proposal of India and South Africa for a temporary waiver of certain intellectual property rights provisions in the TRIPS Agreement to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Bagchi said talks are on with many countries at various levels, but added that for details, the Commerce Ministry should be contacted.
In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.
In May, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa and Indonesia.
The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.
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