By Vijay Sappani, March 1, 2021
Though ties between Canada and India have been through several rocky patches in recent years, the phone call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, can and should serve as the turning point in the often-strained relationship.
The two leaders agreed to work together on access to COVID-19 vaccines and recognized the need for continued global co-ordination to respond to the pandemic. Since the two countries have more in common than they have differences, India is the perfect partner for Canada when it comes to recovering from the pandemic and realizing Canada’s interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
Trudeau said that, “If the world managed to conquer COVID-19, it would be significantly because of India’s tremendous pharmaceutical capacity, and Prime Minister Modi’s leadership in sharing this capacity with the world.” He is right.
India’s strength in pharmaceutical manufacturing didn’t happen overnight. Over the years, India has invested tremendously in its pharmaceutical sector. It is the largest exporter of generic drugs in the world, accounting for 20 per cent of global manufacturing and 40 per cent of the generic drug market in the United States.
Similarly, on vaccines, India now accounts for 62 per cent of global production. Beyond its production capabilities, India’s track record in meeting global regulatory standards and transparency of data is another key factor. Brazil, which was initially planning to use China’s Sinovac vaccine, switched to using Indian-manufactured vaccines after concerns about safety and lack of transparency from China.