A number of Canadian provincial governments, including Alberta, have approached India to explore the possibility of importing technical knowhow on Covid-19 vaccines from Indian manufacturers to establish vaccine-making facilities to tackle the pandemic.
An Indian official said "preliminary" discussions have commenced and the provincial governments are interested in the technical expertise developed by companies such as Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech.
The two companies are manufacturing Indian-made vaccines. SII is making the Covishield vaccine, its version of the Astra Zeneca-Oxford shot, and Bharat Biotech is producing the Covaxin jab.
Canada is importing Pune-based SII's Covishield shots, with the first consignment of 500,000 doses having arrived last Wednesday and the remaining two million doses expected by mid-May.
Canadian provinces have been eyeing Indian-made vaccines even as New Delhi has been dispatching shipments to numerous countries around the world.
Canada has been troubled with maintaining a steady flow of doses because of the absence of indigenous manufacturing facilities and provincial governments have been seeking to establish such facilities in potential joint ventures with Indian manufacturers in future.
Alberta apart, Indian officials didn't yet identify the other Canadian provinces that have been in contact with the Indian government to pursue this matter. They said India's "vaccine internationalism" could pay off in a post-pandemic scenario for its pharma sector as it emerges as a reliable supplier.
The arrival of the coronavirus vaccines in Canada is being highlighted by India as its reliability and credulity when it comes to maintaining global supply chains as well as being the "pharmacy of the world", as one official put it.
While the Biden administration in the US has indicated it may not allow its manufacturers to export vaccines till domestic requirements are met, India is attempting to underscore its vaccine diplomacy initiative.
Ajay Bisaria, India's high commissioner to Ottawa, made this point during a series of interviews with the Canadian media as the Covishield vaccines arrived in Canada.
Asked by Vassy Kapelos, host of CBC's Power & Politics, whether there was the possibility that India could renege on contracts like the US seems likely to do, Bisaria said, "You have no worries from India. We have enough going and India is strongly committed and very conscious of its responsibility as the largest vaccine-maker in the world with 62% of the global capacity."