Vaccine diplomacy: India providing COVID vaccines to six neighbours

India - one of the world's top pharma powers and vaccine producers - has announced it will supply COVID-19 vaccines to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday

Jan 20, 2021

India - one of the world's top pharma powers and vaccine producers - has announced it will supply COVID-19 vaccines to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday. It is awaiting word from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius. 

The Ministry of External Affairs said India will supply COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner keeping in view domestic requirements.

India is awaiting confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius for the supply of the vaccines, the ministry said.

India has received several requests for the supply of Indian-manufactured vaccines from neighbouring South Asian and key partner countries.

"In response to these requests, and in keeping with India's stated commitment to use India's vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of humanity fight the COVID pandemic, supplies under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles will begin from January 20," it said.

"In respect of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius, we are awaiting their confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances," it added.

India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country. While Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield is being manufactured by the Serum Institute, Pune, Covaxin is being produced indigenously by Bharat Biotech.

Immunization programme has already started in India in a phased manner to cover the healthcare providers, frontline workers, and the most vulnerable.

It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad, the statement added.

India had earlier supplied hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, and paracetamol tablets, as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, masks, gloves, and other medical supplies to a large number of countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

India has also provided training to several neighbouring countries to enhance and strengthen their clinical capabilities, under the Partnerships for Accelerating Clinical Trials (PACT) programme.

Separately, several training courses have been organized for healthcare workers and administrators of partner countries under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, sharing India's experience in dealing with the pandemic, the statement added. 

“India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.

The Maldives will receive around 100,000 doses of Astra-Zeneca at Velena International Airport through an Air India flight today. Mohammed Nasheed, the former president, and current speaker, of the Maldives, thanked India, saying, “ During tsunami, 1988 coup, water crisis or corona, India has been the first responder and dependable friend.”

Till now, India has provided assistance worth $250 million to the Maldives to help the country respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

A report on The Kathmandu Post said the foreign ministry officials and the Indian embassy in Kathmandu have been working out a schedule for the arrival of the vaccine. A joint announcement regarding this is expected today, the report said.

Local media reports in Bangladesh indicated that the country is likely to receive vaccines on Thursday. The country will get 2 million doses of vaccine on Thursday, a report in The Hindu said. Around 3 million doses of Covishield will be procured later by Bangladesh through a commercial contract. 

According to a report in the Indian Express, Pakistan is pondering to get access to the Made-In-India vaccines through two ways – either to get the doses via global alliance for vaccines or via bilateral route. But, given the state of their strained relations, there has been no information so far on any direct request from Islamabad to New Delhi for vaccines. 



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