Modi assures Canada that India will strive to meet its vaccine needs

FILE PHOTO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File photo

(Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday he had assured Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau that India would do its best to supply Canada with vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially easing shortages faced in the country.

India, which boasts several vaccine manufacturing facilities, is fast emerging as a key supplier of shots to the world. Canada does not yet have a vaccine manufacturing facility of its own and is reliant on foreign suppliers.

“Was happy to receive a call from my friend @JustinTrudeau. Assured him that India would do its best to facilitate supplies of COVID vaccines sought by Canada,” Modi said in a tweet.

Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc have reduced the number of COVID-19 vaccines being delivered to Canada in February.

Last week, Trudeau said that Canada would succeed in inoculating its population despite “momentary disruptions” in vaccine supply and reiterated that every Canadian seeking a shot would be vaccinated by the end of September.

Trudeau and Modi talked “about India’s significant efforts in promoting vaccine production and supply, which have provided vital support to countries around the world,” a statement from Trudeau’s office said, adding that the two of them “agreed to work together on access to vaccines.”

Several Western pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca Plc, Novavax Inc and Johnson & Johnson, have tied up with Indian drug manufacturers to produce their vaccines for sales domestically and overseas.

Last week, Reuters reported that Verity Pharmaceuticals and Serum Institute of India (SII) – the world’s largest vaccine maker – had applied to distribute SII’s licensed version of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in Canada.

Canada has recorded over 20,000 deaths and more than 810,000 cases of COVID-19, and many provinces have reimposed restrictions to combat a second wave of the pandemic.