Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the United Nations on Saturday that his country's vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the Covid-19 crisis.
"As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today," Mr Modi said in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly. "India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis."
Mr Modi said India was moving ahead with Phase 3 clinical trials – the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy – and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.
Two million deaths a possibility, WHO says
The Indian prime minister’s pledge came a day after the World Health Organisation warned that global death toll from Covid-19 could double to 2 million before a successful vaccine is widely used and could be even higher without concerted action to curb the pandemic.
"Unless we do it all, [2 million deaths] ... is not only imaginable, but sadly very likely," Mike Ryan, head of the UN agency's emergencies programme, told a briefing on Friday.
The number of deaths about nine months since the novel coronavirus was discovered in China is nearing 1 million.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pushing for a "people's vaccine" that is available and affordable everywhere and expressed concern this week that some countries were "reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations."
"Such 'vaccinationalism' is not only unfair, it is self-defeating. None of us is safe until all of us are safe. Everybody knows that," he told the General Assembly.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that the coronavirus pandemic has frayed the bonds between nations, and urged world leaders to unite against the “common foe” of Covid-19.
Mr Johnson, who made the remarks in a pre-recorded speech to the General Assembly, said that after nine months into the pandemic, “the very notion of the international community looks tattered.”
“Never again must we wage 193 separate campaigns against the same enemy,” he said.
Mr Johnson, who contracted the virus in April, set out a plan for preventing another global pandemic, including a network of zoonotic research labs around the world to identify dangerous pathogens before they leap from animals to humans.
He also called for countries to share data to create a global early-warning system for disease outbreaks, and urged countries to stop slapping export controls on essential goods, as many have done during the pandemic.