In talks with BRICS partners, India proposes ways to amplify fight against COVID-19

As the Coronavirus cases continue to surge across the world, India held discussions with BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa – emphasizing the need to set up a BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center to fight the pandemic with maximum efficiency. The five countries agreed that enhancement of the healthcare sector is the top priority in the ongoing battle against the global health crisis.

These developments took place on April 28 when India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a video conference with his counterparts from the BRICS nations and highlighted the need to establish the vaccine development center. During the conference, Foreign Ministers of the five nations also explored the potentials of holding drills among the national agencies of respective countries in charge of responding to the epidemics in order to better prepare them for unprecedented emergencies in the imminent future. India and other BRICS partners also agreed to allocate $15 billion to set up a New Development Bank to support the revival of economies impacted by the pandemic crisis.

EAM Jaishankar also apprised the Foreign Ministers of the BRICS nations about the formulation of COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund by the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries which include India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. He highlighted that India has been extending pharma support to nearly 85 countries as part of its contribution to the fight against the pandemic.

It was during the BRICS 10th Summit in South Africa’s Johannesburg in July 2018 when a proposal to establish a Vaccine Research and Development Centre was introduced. Furthermore, in the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other world leaders of the bloc had acknowledged boosting contributions of the five countries in global health governance, particularly towards and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and agencies of the United Nations.

In a report published on the WHO website, it has been stated that the BRICS countries as vaccine manufacturers have played a crucial and diversifying role in the global vaccine market. Brazil, China, and India are some of the leading manufacturers of low-cost vaccines and medicines. Notably, BRICS have replaced some of the multinational corporations as a source of traditional vaccines such that five vaccines have originally been included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expanded Programme on Immunization.

The 12th edition of the BRICS Summit is scheduled to take place between July 21-23, 2020 in Russia’s St Petersburg. Top leaders of the five nations will be further discussing the action-plan of the summit amid the Coronavirus crisis.

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