Daniel B Smith, the Charge D’Affaires of the US embassy, said on Tuesday that the USA is looking for joint production of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in India and is also trying to figure out ways to boost manufacturing of the vaccines by vaccine producers like the Serum Institute of India (SII).
In an announcement last month, the White House said that it is going to share 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine globally as soon as it is ready and India was expecting a significant amount out of the stockpile.
Smith said in a media briefing, “I know that there are a number of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (with the US). They were manufactured in the US. They were manufactured at a plant outside of Baltimore but there were problems with this plant. So far the Food and Drug Administration of the US has not certified that these vaccines are available for anyone’s use; for export or not.”
To a question on the joint production and supply of Covid-19 vaccines, Smith said, “Our development finance cooperation is looking at how we can invest so that we can help produce the Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine here in India. And I know that there are some private-sector production talks that are underway from pharmaceutical companies to pharmaceutical companies.”
He added, “We are determined to do all we can as a government to encourage licensing and encourage more production and if there is a need for capital, we will look at what we can provide and whether we can provide assistance.”
The US has been in touch with multiple vaccine manufacturers from India as it plays a critical role in the manufacturing of vaccines at a global stage.
He said, “I think we are watching carefully the production levels at the SII and elsewhere. We’ve been in close touch with the SII to try to determine what raw materials we could provide, and assistance that we can provide to help boost production.”
Regarding the vaccine needs of countries neighbouring India, Smith said, “We want to do all we can to boost that production because I have heard from some of my colleagues in neighbouring countries, from the government of Bhutan, about their concern that India, of course, is having to divert a lot of its existing production to its own domestic needs, which is absolutely understandable.”
As India suffers the brunt of the second wave of the pandemic, the US government’s assistance to India is estimated to be at USD 100 million.
On the issue of the supply chain, Smith commented, “A lot of the companies that manufacture key components and raw materials are located in the US, but many are not. So we are going to have to work together as a global community to address some of these supply chain issues and challenges that we face as we go forward.”
“We are concerned obviously with the current course of the pandemic in India, not simply because of the humanitarian catastrophe but the fact that it has global implications,” he added as his concluding remark.