India will have to play an important role in mass production of medicines and vaccines against COVID-19 once the treatment for the deadly disease is found, French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain has said.
Dozens of researchers across the globe are racing against time to come out with a vaccine for coronavirus that has infected over 50 lakh people and has killed over 3.3 lakh globally.
“It is very important for states to coordinate if we want the COVID-19 vaccine and/or medicines to be produced and distributed equitably worldwide. India will have an important role to play as a producer of medicines and vaccines,” French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain told PTI in an interview.
India is a leading manufacturer of vaccines and generic drugs globally. Several research institutes in India are also working on separate programmes to find a vaccine for the coronavirus.
The French Ambassador’s comments also came in the backdrop of efforts by a large number of countries as well as the 27-nation European Union (EU) to ensure equitable access to any vaccine or medicine for the treatment of coronavirus infection through their mass production under voluntary patenting.
The issue figured prominently at the recent two-day conference of the World Health Organization (WHO) where many countries pressed for making the vaccine available to all countries and not only to those who have deep pockets.
“France and India have supported the European resolution (at the WHO) for universal, timely and equitable access to all necessary products for countering the pandemic, and underscored the role of extensive immunisation against COVID-19 as a global public good,” he said.
Since the coronavirus crisis broke out, India has been pitching for a coordinated global approach in containing the pandemic. India has already supplied 446 million hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets and 1.54 billion Paracetamol tablets to 133 countries, drawing praise from a number of global leaders.
Last week, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the coronavirus pandemic has reaffirmed India’s role as a “pharmacy of the world”.
In the interview, Lenain also said that the coronavirus crisis has shown that France and India’s push for multilateralism is the right option for the current century.
“None of the major issues that structure the future of the world like healthcare and environment can be dealt with in an isolated manner,” he said.
“I am delighted that the reform of the WHO, which France encourages, has found favour in India. India and France have coordinated well and continue to do so. However, we can do much more together,” he said.
The COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of international cooperation on humanitarian issues and the two strategic partners have been working together under the G20 as well as in the WHO on finding ways to check the spread of the coronavirus, the ambassador said.
He also said that France is “very grateful” to India for allowing the export of certain critical drugs for treating patients in intensive care.
Asked whether there was a need for global investigation to find the origin of the coronavirus, Lenain said, “Post-crisis, there will, of course, be a time for analysing the alert mechanism to see how it can be improved.
(With inputs from PTI)
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