NEW DELHI: As the government scrambles to battle the worst Covid surge in the world, foreign minister S Jaishankar held a series of high level conversations on Friday, primarily with his US counterpart, Anthony Blinken, and earlier, with Wang Yi of China.
The Jaishankar-Blinken conversation, which was “exhaustive”, covered key supply issues for medical oxygen, key pharma ingredients for drugs and therapeutics and unclogging the vaccine supply chain.
Jaishankar asked the US to ease supplies of key APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and Key Starter Materials (KSM) for production of drugs which would enable Indian pharma companies to enhance production during the current emergency.
This is particularly important for drugs like Remdesivir, which is in high demand, given the severity of the Covid spread. Sources said, Indian companies have already increased production of Remdesivir, and the supplies of KSMs by the US would help them further.
The third issue India needs right now is unclogging the vaccine supply chain — India has enormous vaccine demand, and massive production capacities. Jaishankar asked the US to release vaccine components like adjuvants and resins that are needed for vaccine production. Blinken has reportedly agreed to move on this quickly.
The conversation happened as US military transport aircraft dropped off oxygen cylinders and other medical supplies. India wants more oxygen generators with large capacities, something the US can provide.
US NSA Jake Sullivan, speaking to the Aspen Security Forum this evening, said the White House was in deep discussions on moving vaccine supplies to other countries, and firm up the US’ global vaccine strategy.
An official readout by the US State Department of the conversation said, Blinken “reviewed comprehensive ongoing U.S. government efforts in support of the Indian government’s COVID-19 response operations. He also noted the outpouring of support from U.S. industries, non-governmental institutions, and private citizens for COVID-19 relief efforts in India.”
Earlier in the evening Jaishankar held a conversation with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, where China agreed to allow cargo flights by Indigo and Spice Jet to Chinese cities to bring COVID supplies.
In the coming days, Jaishankar is expected to travel to London for the G-7 ministerial, where he will emphasise prioritising medical supplies to India. The government plans to tap key European countries and some south-east Asian countries as important sources of supplies.