Vaccine diplomacy that needs specific clarifications


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GAVI

Mains level : Paper 2- Issues with vaccine diplomacy

Amid the second wave of covid pandemic, India’s decision to supply vaccine to foreign countries has been questioned from various quarters. The article deals with this issue.

Issue of vaccine supply to foreign countries

  • While responding to a question  Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs noted that India was sending these vaccines abroad in the form of grant, commercial sales of manufacturers GAVI’s COVAX facility.
  • The supply to GAVI’s COVAX facility is an obligation since India is a member of this multilateral body and also a recipient of vaccines from this body.
  • By doing this, India wishes to signal that it is a responsible global power which does not self-obsessively think of itself alone.
  • This desire to be a good global citizen can be traced to the Objective Resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on December 13, 1946.
  • The premise of the ideal ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is no different to that of the Objective Resolution.

Factors to consider

  • The government made estimates of the vaccines that could be sent abroad on the interplay of three factors: domestic production, the demands of the national vaccine programme and requests for vaccines manufactured in India.
  • What is not known is how these factors were collectively addressed in the decision-making process.
  • It is also argued that it was obligatory to send vaccines contracted under GAVI’s COVAX facility.
  • However, sovereign states can always invoke supreme national interest to over-ride obligations.
  • Certainly, the vaccines sent as grants were voluntary and the commercial contracts of the company concerned could always be disregarded under existing laws.


The government needs to convince Indians that the vaccine exports have not been made at the cost of their health.

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