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Covid-19: India to make J&J vaccine as part of Quad plan

AFP/Washington
Filed on March 12, 2021
AFP

US, India, Japan and Australia launch joint drive to ramp up the Covid-19 vaccine supply in Asia.

The United States, India, Japan and Australia have launched a joint drive to ramp up the Covid-19 vaccine supply in Asia in the first-ever summit of the four democracies on Friday.

US President Joe Biden was set Friday to speak virtually for around 90 minutes with the three nations' prime ministers.

Ahead of the talks, US officials said the so-called "Quad" nations have agreed to work together to produce up to one billion vaccine doses by 2022 as the world seeks to turn the page on the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plan would see pharmaceutical hub India manufacturing the single-dose vaccine from US-based Johnson & Johnson backed by financial support from Japan, with Australia taking charge of shipments.

"What we've tried to put together is a broad-based approach that addresses the acute shortage of vaccines across Southeast Asia in particular," a US official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The Quad format has been growing for more than a decade, but Friday's talks are the first at the leaders' level.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the Quad is not focused "on any single issue".

"We have shared interests in standing up for universal values and rights. We have shared economic interests. We have shared security interests. We have deep people-to-people ties with all of these countries," Price said.

The Biden administration has said alliances will be key in achieving its goals.

The Quad summit kicks off a flurry of such diplomacy.

Japan announced Friday that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will become the first foreign leader to have White House talks with Biden, who has tried to set an example by limiting travel and meetings during the pandemic.

Conditions permitting, the trip will take place "as early as the first half of April," top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are also paying a joint visit next week to both Japan and South Korea on their first foreign travel, with Austin continuing on to India.





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