India’s vaccine diplomacy: Is it the right time?


It was after 9 months since the pandemic wave started in India and India being the 2nd populous state put the toughest lockdown to handle this crisis.After 9 months,Vaccines fromBharat Biotech and Serum Institute of Technology were approved. Bharat Biotech vaccine is Covaxin and Serum Institute vaccine is Covisheild. At the time when both these vaccines were approved, Priority was given to the health workers and front-line workers. However, Under the “Vaccine Maitri” Programme, between mid-January and Mid-March, India exported more than 5.8 crore doses of covid-19 vaccines to 70 countries. As per the data of Union Ministry of health, India will earn revenue from shipments of about 63% of the vaccines sent to UAE, Kuwait, South Africa, Egypt, Brazil and Bangladesh. India’s exports of the COVID-19 vaccine stood at around Rs 338 crore till February 8. 37% of the vaccines were send as a gift., Now the issue is What should be the Government priority ? Is it the right time to export? We are already experiencing the surge in the active Covid-19 cases, Country having more than 100 billion of people with only 2 companies has approval for vaccines. Why we have vaccinated only 2.4% of population till date? Is everyone aware about the effectiveness of the vaccine? When India should export, what would be the criteria? Lot of discussions happening around, isn’t it?

Export or Save it for Nation?

“Nation first”, is the time when people in the nations are looking forward to their government and believes that the it will be the interest of the citizens which will be the priority.Indian Government should have either allowed few other companies to produce the vaccine and once India has around 5-6 companies which can produce the vaccine and then the government would have planned to export the vaccine and promote the “vaccine maitri” programme. As of 16, March 2021, only 2.4% of the population were vaccinated.

 It is already stated fact that vaccine drive is India is very slow. Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech has done a tremendous job so far. Apart from managing the manufacturing of domestic supplies they have also taken care of the exports that was asked by the Indian government. Now the other question arises that when is the right time to donate the vaccine or when is the right time to export? What percentage of people are required to be vaccinated before we start sending the vaccine as a gift or as an export? Government should not deny its moral responsibility to help nations but it should not be against its own citizen, India is experiencing the surge in Covid-19 active cases,it has been reported that there is approximately 43% rise in the active covid case in the week-on-week basis, India has recorded more than 43,846 daily cases for the first time in 2021 on 21stmarch 2021. As of March 22, only 3.54 doses were given per 100 people, even though India has registered third highest number of COVID-19 vaccines doses in the world. A proper framework has to be designated to have a efficient vaccine drive. Rural population of India is not so keen in taking the vaccine as many believes that, “even after getting vaccinated people are getting positive.” Awareness in these locations is required. Medical officers should promote vaccine drives in these locations where people are not so keen in taking the vaccine.

China Vaccine diplomacy vs India.

Compare to India, china has more institutions and companies which are working on vaccine. As per the report, in china there are approximately 17-18 companies which are handling the manufacturing and supply of vaccines.

As per the report of Global times an A-share listed company has stated that “if China approves 600 million of doses of vaccines this year, we are ready to accommodate it”  

The other point is the issue with cold storage of pharma products., Vaccines of china can be stored at normal temperature of refrigerator which is difficult in country like India. China’s developed cold chain facility is well equipped to supply or handle the vaccines more adequately and this is one of the reason China is able to balance both export and its own domestic demands. India vaccines required the temperature of approx. minus 20 degree Celsius. The cold chain in India is not well equipped and is facing the challenges.

It is the high time where country like India should properly develop its cold storage infrastructure. India is a preferred destination of many foreign companies who wants to manufacture vaccines or related to pharma industries, developing the cold chain will make sure that the supply and demand side are matching with ease.


With the active cases at the highest level in 2021,It is the time to prioritize the vaccine drive, Government should allow other companies also to manufacture the vaccines, ifIndia have 5-6 companies who can manufacture the vaccines then India can vaccinate a greater number of people supported by the export of vaccines to the other nations. By doing this not only India would be protecting its domestic demand of the vaccine as then we have more companies who can fulfill the domestic need and also promoting peace and friendship with other nations. India Should also try developing the cold chain to strengthen the process. Companies like Dr. Reddy’s laboratory, Johnson and Johnson, Novavax are in race and once they are ready with the offerings it will be a huge relief for Indian government and the citizens.

Pushkar Pushp
Pushkar Pushp
Bio- Research scholar (International Business) at Fore school of management. Area of Interest- Trade & Geopolitics, Asia-pacific.


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