India is beginning to send today anti-Covid-19 vaccines to six neighbouring countries under grant assistance, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on 19 January. These vaccines will be sent to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from today.
The MEA said the government has received requests from several countries for supply of Indian manufactured Covid-19 vaccines.
“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-19 pandemic, supplies under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles will begin from 20 January 2021,” the MEA said in a statement.
The ministry said that vaccines will be supplied to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius once they confirm necessary regulatory clearances.
The government said India would continue supplying vaccines to “partner countries” in a phased manner over the coming weeks and months.
“It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad,” the MEA said in its statement.
In the first batch, nearly 1,50,000 doses of Covishield vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), will reach Bhutanese capital Thimphu while another consignment of 100,000 doses will be sent to Maldives on today.
“India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead. #VaccineMaitri,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
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, and the Covaxin is being produced by Bharat Biotech.
“India fulfils commitment to give vaccines to humanity. Supplies to our neighbours will start on 20th January. The Pharmacy of the World will deliver to overcome the Covid-19 challenge,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Twitter.
India has got requests from a dozen countries for the COVID vaccines. Last year, amid the pandemic, India sent hydroxychloroquine and Paracetamol to 150 countries. India has been organising several training courses for healthcare workers and administrators of partner countries under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.