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The G7 focuses on China, a respite for Modis India. But questions about Covid drugs won’t go away



PM Modi virtually addresses the G7 summit |  Twitter @MEAIndia
PM Modi virtually addresses the G7 summit | Twitter @MEAIndia

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The elemental and untouched beauty of Cornwall, which hosted the just concluded summit of the western world’s richest democracies, the G7, was a reminder of what the world, including India, can look like again, a once you are doubly vaccinated to keep Covid-19 at bay.

There were several other powerful messages from the most powerful club in the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to be the keynote speaker of the Open companies session G7 diplomats told the reporter that there is significant concern about how NGOs and political activists are being jailed under tough national security laws for the simple crime of exposing the government, while the Government crackdown on social media platforms like Twitter is closely watched.

India at the G7 summit

On the eve of the G7, indeed, an intermediary A US official has been seconded to tell Congress that some of Delhi’s actions, including restrictions on free speech, have raised concerns that are inconsistent with the country’s democratic values. But the message was sweet, not even a warning fact, India and the US are working closely together, especially in the Quad, and neither side wants to tip the boat.

With China looming, the current indiscretions of New Delhi, including Jammu and Kashmir, are not seen as particularly significant. The G7 will also consider how its guests can become forces of stability in their respective regions. For example, can India export its democratic and friendly model to the countries of South Asia?

For the moment, the jury is not on this question, because the G7 has focused on China. the G7 press release devoted a lot of space to China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang and despite Italian and British reluctance, called for an appropriate investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. Naturally, the United States was leading the charge. Diplomacy is back, tweeted Joe Biden. China, as you might expect, denounced the G-7 statement.

It was a shame that Modi was not present in Cornwall as learning from others has always been part of the MP growth curve. Outside of the Big 7, Modi would have rubbed shoulders with other leaders of developing countries such as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a classic trade unionist who is popular abroad because of his easy-going personality, whose presence is proof that South Africa needs help as his country enters the third wave the Covid pandemic and because China is making huge inroads there; with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose country is a close ally of the United States, can teach lessons on how to avoid a pandemic and, although it is a key economic partner, remains a worried neighbor to China; and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose country is a treaty ally of the United States, a member of the Quad, and at the forefront of tensions with China, with which it was once a close economic partner.

In fact, if Modi had been to Cornwall, a Quad meeting could easily have taken place with the US, Japan and Australia, the other Quad members, all in attendance.

Read also : Diplomacy is hard work, but India’s American moment has arrived

Vaccine problem in India

For now, however, India’s lack of preparation for Covid has wrenched all claims of becoming an emerging global or regional power, the Modi government admits it has been caught off guard. India now hopes to secure a substantial share of 1 billion doses of vaccine promised by the G7, half of which by the United States. Invoke the Mantra One Earth, One Health at another G7 session, Modi reiterated the India-South Africa proposal at the WTO and called on the assembled leaders to lift the ban on Covid vaccines and related intellectual property rights.

Except that the G7 diplomats are now echoing the Supreme Courts May 1 issue Why did the Modi government not invoke patent law to grant compulsory licenses to Indian pharmaceutical companies to manufacture Covid vaccines, other drugs and related materials?

Diplomats point out that the April report from U.S. trade officials recognizes the right of partners, like India, to deal with serious public health emergencies to issue compulsory licenses and that the Covid-19 pandemic is eligible. And even though pharmaceutical companies do not share their know-how on Covid vaccines, they point out that this is a perfect opportunity for Indian pharmaceutical companies to manufacture other drugs in India.

Consistent with this view, the United States respects the right of its trading partners to grant compulsory licenses in a manner consistent with the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and public health, the report says.

In the past five years, rich and poor nations have invoked this right. In 2016, Germany issued a compulsory license for raltegravir, an antiretroviral drug that treats HIV-AIDS. In 2020, Israel released one for Lopinavir, an anti-HIV-AIDS drug that it hoped would also treat Covid-19 (that didn’t really help). This year, Russia and Hungary issued compulsory licenses to manufacture Remdesivir to fight Covid.

Simply put, the Doha deal gives member countries like India the right to compulsory license a drug, for the greater common good, thus allowing Indian pharmaceutical companies to bypass patent issues and to manufacture the drug using the know-how that exists in the public domain for the period of the health emergency in question.

Read also : No great choice between the two camps of ex-diplomats. Both equally inconsistent

Navigate the patent waiver

Some fear being sued by the foreign pharmaceutical company in question, such as the US pharmaceutical major Gilead, the maker of Remdesivir, is done with Russia. Moscow authorized a company called Pharmasyntez to produce a generic drug called Remdeform because the Gileads Remdesivir drug, called Veklury, cost 11,544 rubles, more than the maximum price of 7,400 rubles set by the government.

Lawyers say Gilead is unlikely to win his case as the court will consider whether the essential requirement for a compulsory license has been met, namely the presence of an emergency in the country.

The G7’s response to the India-South Africa proposal is not yet known, but at the WTO, Germany, Italy and the UK continue to hold firm, while the US United have agreed to waive patents for Covid vaccines. France, which so far has no skin in the game, Sanofis’ anti-Covid drug has yet to reach the markets, but has agreed to lift the patent ban on Covid vaccines.

The 2021 G7 summit will surely be remembered not only for the pristine beauty of Cornwall, but also for trying to tackle the Covid pandemic and censor China. The question now is, where does India go from here?

The author is a consultant editor. Opinions are personal.

(Edited by Prashant Dixit)

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