Quad Summit’s Vaccine Initiative: India’s Biological E to Shoulder Manufacturing

Hyderabad-based Biological E will be the partner manufacturer in the vaccine initiative launched by the Quad group of countries in its first summit level meeting on Friday. For now Johnson and Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has been identified, among other US developed vaccines, by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to be manufactured in India with an aim to reach the one billion doses by end of 2022.

Biological E is a woman-run and woman-operated business “advancing DFC’s 2X Women’s Initiative to promote global gender equity,” said the press release from US DFC. Biological E was established in 1953 and is headed by Mahima Datla — the managing director and CEO of the company.

The agency seeks to invest between $5 million and $500 million per eligible project through its full range of financial tools, which includes equity and debt financing, political risk insurance and technical development.

The DFC is America’s development bank. DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today.

India’s foreign secretary Harshvardhan Shringla also said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japan Bank of International Cooperation will be the other agencies financing the initiative.

Australia will contribute $77 million for the provision of vaccines and “last-mile” delivery support, with a focus on Southeast Asia, in addition to its existing commitment of US $407 million for regional vaccine access and health security.

Japan will assist vaccination programs of developing countries such as the purchase of vaccines and cold-chain support including through provision of grant aid of $41 million and new concessional yen loans, ensuring alignment with and support of COVAX.

The United States will leverage existing programs to further boost vaccination capability, drawing on at least $100 million in regional efforts focused on immunisation.

In his opening remarks at the first Quad summit level meeting, US President Joe Biden had introduced the initiative. Under this mechanism, US developed vaccines will be manufactured in India, financed by US and Japan and the last mile distribution, storage and movement in the Indo-Pacific will be handled by Australia.

The Quad summit fact sheet said, “Together, Quad leaders are taking shared action necessary to expand safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in 2021, and will work together to strengthen and assist countries in the Indo-Pacific with vaccination, in close coordination with the existing relevant multilateral mechanisms including WHO and COVAX.”

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