India has handed over 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Bangladesh under grant assistance, a senior minister said on Thursday. The vaccines were given to Bangladesh at a crucial time when the number of coronavirus cases in the nation continues to rise and has reached 529,687 till Thursday.
"India had stood by Bangladesh during the (1971) Liberation War, and today, when the pandemic is rattling the world, India again came with gifts of vaccines," Bangladesh foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said as Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami handed him over the vaccines. Health minister Zahid Maleque joined the function during which Momen termed the New Delhi initiative as a proof of true friendship between Bangladesh and India.
Doraiswami said that India, in line with the discussions held during the virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, delivered the vaccines within a week of their rollout in India. Anti-coronavirus vaccination began in India on January 16.
He said as part of India's "Neighbourhood First" policy, his country accorded high priority to the India-Bangladesh relationship and the gift of 20 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine was in fact the biggest such dispatch by India to any of the neighbouring countries. India has also handed over 1 million similar vaccines to Nepal.
On Wednesday, India sent 150,000 doses of Covisheild vaccines to Bhutan and 100,000 doses to the Maldives. India is one of the world's biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines. 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. The Ministry of External Affairs said it will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad.
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 to help them deal with the pandemic.