India's vaccine diplomacy seems to be shining as the country is giving millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to South Asian nations for the past few days, promising to help its neighbours, among others, at a time when the disease continues to grip the region. Now it is spreading beyond the regional boundaries as well.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Friday said: "Keeping in view the domestic requirements of the phased rollout, India will continue to supply COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner. It will ensure that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad."
He said there is interest in many countries in accessing vaccines from India which is the global hub for vaccine production.
"In so far as these requests for vaccines from India, you would recall that the Prime Minister has already stated that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity would be used for the benefit of all humanity in fighting this crisis," he said.
The MEA official said: "As we announced on 19 January, our grant assistance of vaccines to the neighbouring countries commenced on 20 January. On the first day, 1.5 lakh doses of vaccines were supplied to Bhutan and 1 lakh doses to Maldives as grant assistance."
Speaking on the various nations where the vaccines have been sent, he said: "Yesterday, supplies of 10 lakh doses to Nepal and 20 lakh doses to Bangladesh were undertaken. Today, consignments of 15 lakh doses for Myanmar, 1 lakh doses to Mauritius and 50,000 doses to Seychelles are being airlifted."
Srivastava said: "As stated earlier, supplies as grant assistance to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan will be undertaken after receiving confirmation of regulatory clearances from these two countries. Contractual supplies are also being undertaken to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil, Morocco, Bangladesh and Myanmar."
He said the vaccines are sent to the foreign nations both as gifts as well as on a commercial basis.
Leaders of several nations have thanked India for sending the vaccine.
Nepal PM KP Oli tweeted: "I thank Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi
ji as well as the Government and people of India for the generous grant of one million doses of COVID vaccine to Nepal at this critical time when India is rolling out vaccination for it's own people."
The official Twitter page of Bangladesh's ruling Awami League also tweeted: "HPM #SheikhHasina has thanked the Govt of #India and HPM @narendramodi for sending a batch of two million doses of #COVISHIELD #vaccine as a gift to the people of #Bangladesh."
Immunization programme is being implemented in India, as in other countries, in a phased manner to cover the healthcare providers, frontline workers and the most vulnerable.
"Keeping in view the domestic requirements of the phased rollout, India will continue to supply COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner. It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad," MEA had earlier said in a statement.
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 COVID19 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 our experience in dealing with the pandemic.