WASHINGTON: The United States, along with other "like-minded" democracies, is set to announce a 'historic agreement' to expand COVID-19 vaccine production capacity, which will look at expanding the supply of coronavirus vaccines coming out of India, a senior administration official told reporters, just hours before the first of its kind the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) scheduled to take place on Friday.
On Friday morning (local time) US President Joe Biden will virtually take part in a 90-minute long meeting of leaders of the "Indo-Pacific Quad" grouping - which includes the US, India, Japan and Australia.
"The focus of this deliverable is really expanding access to safe and effective vaccines by building the manufacturing capacity and focusing on companies in places like India that are already able to produce and export safe and effective vaccines," the official asserted.
"The United States is working closely with India and Japan and have put together complex financing vehicles that will allow for a very substantial frankly dramatic increase in the capacity to create vaccines, up to a billion by 2022," the official further said.
Some of the additional vaccine capacity created in India would be used in vaccination efforts in Southeast Asian countries, the official told reporters.
"We're also going to establish tomorrow, a senior-level quad vaccine experts group and this is part of the building habits of cooperation that is one of the key focus of the Quad," the senior administration official informed reporters.
The Quad leaders are also likely to announce financing agreements to boost India's manufacturing of coronavirus vaccines, part of what some see as a Quad response to Beijing's efforts to score diplomatic points by offering Made-in-China vaccines to the developing world.
Meanwhile, as a part of its vaccine diplomacy, New Delhi is providing Indian-made Covishield vaccines to other nations through the 'Vaccine Maitri' initiative.
India, a world pharmacy, is at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. It has so far supplied 476.26 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccine globally.