India is the fifth largest economy in the world and occupies an important position in the global economic structure. If India’s economy is hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic, global economic development will inevitably be dragged down. Some international media pointed out that if the trend of the epidemic in India cannot be reversed in the short term, industries such as the global transportation and pharmaceutical industries that are closely related to India will be hit hard.
If calculated by volume, 80% of the goods in international trade are transported by sea. South Asia is adjacent to the Indian Ocean, an important international shipping throat, and its importance is self-evident. Of the 1.7 million international shipping crews in the world, about 200,000 are Indians. Therefore, if the epidemic in South Asia, where India is located, cannot be effectively controlled, international shipping will be hit.
India’s pharmaceutical industry is relatively developed, and its generic drugs have an important market share in the world. Statistics from the statistics website “statista” show that India’s generic drug industry alone will reach 28 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. It is estimated that in the United States, one out of every three drugs taken is a generic drug produced in India.
If the epidemic continues, pressure on the raw material supply chain will cause damage to the Indian pharmaceutical industry, and the global pharmaceutical supply chain will be greatly affected. Especially some seriously ill patients who rely on cheap generic drugs to survive will face greater pressure.
India’s vaccine may affect the global fight against the epidemic
The Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines and the main manufacturer of the “Coronavirus Vaccine Access Mechanism (COVAX)” implemented by the United Nations for the fair distribution of vaccines around the world. The institute has promised to provide at least 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, and nearly half of them will be delivered by the end of this year. According to statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India, from late January to March this year, India exported about 64 million doses of vaccines.
However, as the epidemic in India rebounded and domestic demand soared, India was forced to change its vaccine export plan and prioritize more vaccines to its citizens to control the epidemic. Subject to various factors, the Serum Institute of India announced on April 13 that it would stop exporting vaccines. Previously, the institute had postponed shipments of about 90 million doses of vaccines to multiple countries for the same reason.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization Tan Desai has repeatedly emphasized that inequality in vaccine supply is one of the biggest risks to ending the epidemic. India, as one of the world’s largest vaccine producers and exporters, has a shortage of vaccines in its own country, which has a non-negligible impact on the entire world’s anti-epidemic process.