U.S. WASHINGTON, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Delivering on a commitment to supply COVID-19 vaccine shots to Southeast Asia is crucial to the reliability of the Quad group of nations, which made the pledge in March, a senior White House official spoke on Wednesday.
A plan led by the grouping of Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. to provide a billion COVID-19 vaccines over Asia by the end of 2022 was delayed after India, the world’s largest vaccine provider, halted exports in April amid a huge COVID explosion at home.
Talking ahead of virtual summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and partner nations next week, Edgard Kagan, senior administrator for Eastern Asia and Oceania at the USA White House National Security Council, remarked that India had allowed exporting the first 8 million doses under the plan in October. read more
“We assume to see that ramp up,” he told a meeting hosted by Washington’s Center for Strategic, and International Studies think tank.
“We fully understand the importance of following through on the Quad vaccine drive,” he said. “We realize that is really critical to the Quad’s trustworthiness.”
Kagan said manufacturing had grown, “and we believe that we will start to see fairly notable flows of vaccines from that plan.”
Kagan told the U.S. idea for the Quad, a group of nations that share concerns about China’s rise in authority and assertiveness, was one of “like-minded nations who share a responsibility and an eagerness to take action to support preferences in the country.”
He emphasized that Washington did not view it as “an Asian NATO,” and it was not meant to compete with ASEAN, nor was it attempting to replicate institutions ASEAN has grown.
“We’re not seeking to compete with them. We want to manage with them and we want to find ideas in which the Quad as a grouping can operate with ASEAN,” he replied.
Kagan stated the United States had an interest in serving with ASEAN to ensure the flexibility of supply chains, on climate, and to address “common difficulties on maritime matters” – a clear reference to China’s broad and aggressive claims to region in the debated South China Sea.
Kagan stated that on climate, the Quad could operate with other countries in the sector to help them create clean energy.