Invocation of Defence Production Act: A Major Setback to US Credibility as a Global Leader

Image source: CNN

The whole world is battling the Covid-19 Pandemic since the beginning of 2020. India is among the worst affected countries by this deadly virus, especially during the ongoing second wave. India has lost more than 327,000 life and more than 27 million people have been infected with the virus so far.

The development of the Covid-19 vaccine has come as a ray of hope for people across the globe. Mass vaccination drive has started throughout the world. Till now more than 10% of the world’s population is either vaccinated partially or fully. Developed countries like United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other developed countries have vaccinated almost half of their population (Partially or Fully). Underdeveloped and developing countries of the world, especially Asians and Africans, face major challenges in vaccinating their people. There is a clear divide between rich and poor countries in terms of vaccinating their people.  

After China and United States, India is the largest producer of the covid-19 vaccine. As a part of the Covax alliance, India has delivered more than 55% of vaccines alone to low-income countries. India had to stop the export of the Covid-19 vaccine through the Covax alliance as its production capacity hindered by the United States ban on the export of raw materials essential for vaccine manufacture and the deadly second Covid-19 wave in India. By doing so, United States has slowed India’s vaccination drive and deprived many poor countries of timely vaccine supply.

Image source: CNN

United States has invoked the Defence Production Act 1950 which gives sweeping powers to US President in controlling domestic industries. United States invoked DPA to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. President Trump invoked DPA to make General Motors manufacture ventilators for treatment of critically ill patients and Joe Biden invoked DPA to stop domestic suppliers exporting raw materials needed production of Covid-19 vaccines. The imposition of the Defence Production Act has impacted the world vaccination drive very badly especially in poor countries. It has also questioned the United States credibility as being a global leader and it has exposed the United States commitment towards fighting this global pandemic. 

India’s Serum Institute, the largest producer of vaccines and Bharat Biotech, produces Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in India and heavily dependent on the US for the supply of raw materials essential for vaccine production. Since the United States invoked Defence Production Act, vaccine production has hit badly leaving India to stop the supply of vaccine to poor countries and even India is short of domestic demands.

Image source: The Indian Express

India and the United States are ‘Strategic Partners’ and there are huge convergence of interests, be it Indo-Pacific strategy, fight against terrorism, defence engagements etc. The United States has failed India during these testing times. Even after many requests from the Indian government and assurance from the United States nothing concrete has achieved yet. The United States has also failed as a global leader of the world in providing assistance to needy countries in difficult times. The America First policy of the United States has once again proved that for the United States nothing is more important than the interest of American citizens even if it comes at the expense of others. By doing so the United States has dented its credibility of being a true global leader.       

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Vijay Kumar

Vijay Kumar is an Assistant Professor, DCAC, University of Delhi.

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