India’s vaccine diplomacy: first doses of Covid-19 vaccines to reach Maldives & Bhutan, more nations to follow
India has already rolled out vaccines on January 16 for its population, who are receiving one of the two indigenous vaccines – Covishield or Covaxin. Now in an attempt to do its bit for vaccine diplomacy and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccine, India is supplying the first lot of its vaccines to neighboring and key allies.
Starting Wednesday, the first nations to receive the Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines would be Bhutan and Maldives. The nations to follow the suit and receive next vaccines are Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Seychelles. Post required regulatory approvals Mauritius, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka will also receive the vaccine doses.
1 lakh Covishield vaccine doses consignment is scheduled to reach Male on January 20. This will make Maldives and Bhutan the first nations to receive gift by the Indian government, of Serum Institute of India manufactured Covishield vaccine.
The exercise is being branded as “Vaccine Maitri”, an attempt by government to exhibit its policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’.
Pakistan, though not named in the list by Indian government, is exploring options to procure India-made Covid-19 vaccines through bilateral arrangements or global alliance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the vaccine diplomacy move through tweet, “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.”
Ministry of External Affairs shares that it has received many requests for supply of India-manufactured Covid-19 vaccines from neighbouring nations.
MEA said, “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 20 January 2021. In respect of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius, we are awaiting their confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances.”
The ministry said that India will continue its efforts to supply vaccines to countries across the world. It said, “This will be calibrated against domestic requirements and international demand and obligations, including under GAVI’s Covax facility to developing countries.”