Past track record of its drug manufacturing firms puts India above China in the supply of Covid-19 vaccine to the world

India has better chances of emerging as the first choice for the countries looking to import the COVID-19 vaccines than that of its competitor China.

Despite strong competition from China, India stands better chances given the advantage of having a longer established track record as a globally trusted manufacturing partner, The Straits Times reports.

China might be at a better position when it comes to the early export of the vaccine provided the fact that it has been able to contain the virus yet India, which is still recording a higher number of the Covid-19cases in the world will have an advantage due to its trustworthy reputation.

Experts believe that India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ and the past track record of its manufacturing firms put India above China for the rest of the world.

Dr Rory Horner, Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester’s Global Development Institute believes that India has established a track record of globally trusted manufacturing partners and suppliers of vaccines as well as medicines.

“This may give them an advantage in terms of having trusted relationships, quality approvals and partnerships with other firms, governments, international organisations and donors for the global supply of Covid-19 vaccines, if found to be effective.” The Chinese firms also have a well-established position to supply vaccines, he added.

Another advantage that India has is that it follows a different approach than China in offering medicines and vaccines to other nations.

Dr Bhaskar Balakrishnan, a Science Diplomacy Fellow at Delhi-based Research and Information for Developing Countries believes that India’s approach could be different from that of China, which has reportedly offered its vaccine through loans requiring repayment.

“Judging from similar things in the past, the government is more likely to provide vaccines and drugs under its aid programme on a grant basis,” he said.

India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla reiterated the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ on his visit to Bangladesh earlier this month and promised to prioritize Bangladesh when the vaccines are ready to be exported.

India’s vaccine diplomacy has come at a time when China is also making efforts to make Dhaka its partner in vaccine development. In fact, Dhaka, after deliberating for more than a month, allowed Chinese vaccine Sinovac's trials to proceed in the country.

As far as vaccine development is concerned, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) which is world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume has been able to secure a contract for leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca and Novavax. It has also partnered with GAVI and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to produce 100 million doses of a potential vaccine.

Read the full report in The Straits Times