India’s Vaccine Diplomacy: Combating Pandemic, the India Way
by Manish Chand
It was a shining moment of pride for over 1.3 billion people of India, and an emotional moment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he launched the world’s largest vaccination drive on January 16. Broadcast live on the national television, the much-awaited vaccine roll-out has ignited optimism anew about a healthier and happier future. The vaccination drive has been tracked closely in the world as the “Made-in-India” vaccines promise deliverance from the lethal curse of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed millions around the world.
”It takes years to prepare vaccines. But in the shortest span of time, we have not only one but two India-made vaccines,” PM Modi said while showering praise on Indian scientists who worked tirelessly to make what seemed impossible possible. The sheer scale of India’s vaccination drive is staggering: by the second phase, India hopes to inoculate over 300 million people, which exceeds the population of Britain, France, Germany and Italy combined. “There are only three countries in the world with more than 30 crore population: India, the US and China. Hence, this is going to be the biggest vaccination drive,” PM Modi said.
(l-r) Health Minister Mkhize, Deputy President Mabuza, President Ramaphosa and Deputy High Commissioner of India Chakraborty at OR Tambo airport receiving the first batch of vaccines. (Photo: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS)
1 February 2021
South Africa has officially received its first shipment of one million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
The Emirates cargo carrying the first batch of the lifesaving jabs from India touched down at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday afternoon.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, together with his Deputy David Mabuza, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines, and Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize witnessed the momentous occasion. India’s Deputy Head of Mission to South Africa, Abhijit Chakraborty was also present at this momentous occasion.
Plastic-wrapped bundles of the in-demand vaccine were off-loaded from the plane into the unmarked refrigerated trucks. They were then transported to a cold room lab where they will undergo quality checks, which may take between 10 and 14 days after which government will kick start its three-phase mass inoculation campaign where healthcare workers are first in line to receive the vaccine.
A book launch and an online discussion hosted by The Diplomatic Society brought together several experts on international relations to share their experiences and knowledge on regional cooperation within the African Asian paradigm. SAARC, the South Asian Association for regional Cooperation, an eight country bloc, the African Union (AU) with 55 countries, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) with ten countries and IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) with 22 countries, cover 95 countries and is home to around half of the world’s population at 3.6 billion people. Connectivity and cooperation between people and nations has significant sway in the geo political and socio economic context.
In his observation as the moderator of the discussion, Founder and Editor of The Diplomatic Society, Mr Kirtan Bhana observed a shift in international relations pointing to three poignant events of the last two decades of the new millennium. The first was the September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA. This devastating act sounded alarm bells for a drastic change in geo-political and social interaction. The other is the 2008 financial crisis which exposed the stark imbalance in the needs of humanity and the supply and demand value chains. Now we are confronted by the Covid-19 global viral pandemic, having not yet completely resolved the previous crises. Humanity, it seems, is in drastic need for innovation in international relations.
(Look out for upcoming webinars hosted by The Diplomatic Society)
The bell at the Warsaw Stock Exchange (photo by Kirtan Bhana)
By Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of OECD
Before the pandemic, Poland’s economic performance was stellar: living standards were converging rapidly to the levels of the most advanced OECD countries, and the unemployment and poverty rates were at historically low levels, and well below the OECD average. As elsewhere, the COVID-19 crisis sharply disrupted the country’s development path. However, Poland has done well at limiting economic losses so far and we expect GDP to fall by 3.5% this year before rebounding by 2.9% in 2021 and 3.8% in 2022.
Thanks to fiscal and monetary support, the downturn was smaller than in most OECD countries. Direct fiscal support – such as emergency funds for healthcare and assistance for households and firms – will amount to around 5.2% of GDP in 2020. Taking into account also the so-called “Financial Shield”, notably comprising credit guarantees, the government has offered about 10% of GDP in direct or indirect fiscal support. The Central Bank reduced its policy rate to 0.1%, and introduced unprecedented quantitative easing. If economic conditions weaken again, the authorities should ease fiscal and monetary policies further.