Economy

Bhutan, Maldives to be the first recipients of India's gift of Covid-19 vaccines

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 19, 2021

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava

MEA is yet to officially share plans for exporting vaccines to other countries waiting in queue

Bhutan and Maldives will be the first recipients of India’s gift of COVIDSHIELD vaccines, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, with consignments of 1,50,000 doses each to reach Thimpu and Male on Wednesday, according to a highly placed source.

“India’s vaccine diplomacy is yet another testament to its Neighbourhood First policy, in which the Maldives and Bhutan occupy a special and central place. Both countries had been assured all possible support by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deal with the Covid-19 situation and beyond,” a source tracking the matter told BusinessLine.

India, however, is yet to publicly share its plans of supplying Covid-19 vaccines to other nations but there are indications that supplies might reach countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka soon.

Up to two million doses of Covid-19 vaccines may be sent to Bangladesh this week in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina that a special note will be taken of Bangladesh’s need for the vaccines, an industry source said.

Bangladesh’s Health Secretary Abdul Mannan has reportedly said that his country was getting 2 million doses from the Serum Institute of India to begin with. This was in addition to the other agreements on vaccine supplies that the two countries had, he said.

 

Brazil, too, is set to get its initial shipment of vaccines from India soon. A deal was earlier signed between the Brazilian government and SII for vaccine supplies.

The MEA has maintained that since India’s vaccination programme has just started, it was too early to give a response on supplies to other countries. "As you know, the vaccination process is just starting in India. It is too early to give a specific response on the supplies to other countries as we are still assessing production schedules and availability to take decisions in this regard. This may take some time," MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a briefing last week.

Other countries in line for the vaccines include Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Seychelles and Mauritius. The vaccines to be supplied to these countries will be obtained both from SII and Bharat Biotech International Ltd. As many as 20 million doses of the vaccine could reportedly be exported to these countries.

Modi had earlier assured that India would produce and supply vaccines for all countries in need.

Pakistan, too, is reportedly interested in sourcing vaccines from India, but it is not certain if the government would allow commercial supplies to the neighbouring country.

India rolled out the world’s largest Covid-19 immunisation drive on January 16, hoping to vaccinate about 300 million people by August 2021.

 

Published on January 19, 2021

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