The pace of vaccinations in India continues to drop as cases of COVID-19 in the country soar—a humanitarian crisis that makes the country vulnerable to counterfeit medicines and could also have wide-reaching supply-chain consequences around the world, say Northeastern scholars of supply chain management and criminology.

India, the second-most populous country in the world, is home to the Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing site responsible for supplying COVID-19 vaccines to a number of other countries around the world. The country is also the leading supplier in several other critical industries, including information technology support and generic drug manufacturing.

If SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, continues to surge, it could hobble businesses—and indeed economies—around the world, says GRI Faculty Affiliate Nada Sanders, university distinguished professor of supply chain management at Northeastern.

Some of the negative consequences have already begun playing out in countries such as Kenya and South Africa, in which government and public health officials were depending upon vaccines manufactured at the Serum Institute to inoculate their residents against the deadly virus.

Additionally, Sanders says, businesses in the United States employ millions of Indian workers to run back-office operations—companies including American Express, Microsoft, CISCO, Ford, GE, Oracle, Dell, IBM, and others all rely on Indian workers to run customer support call centers, IT support, and more.

“If India’s economy falters, it can have huge global economic impacts, and certainly in the U.S.,” she says.


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