Bhutan and Maldives on Wednesday became the first two countries to receive COVID-19 vaccines sent by India in sync with its ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar shared on Twitter photos of the consignments reaching the two countries.
On Tuesday, India had said it would send COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday. The supplies to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius will commence after confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances.
It is learnt that 1,50,000 doses of Covisheild vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), were sent to Bhutan and 1,00,000 doses reached Maldives as part of India’s grant assistance. “Indian vaccines reach Maldives, reflects our special friendship," Jaishankar tweeted along with a photograph of the consignments.
“#VaccineMaitri begins. Consignment arrives in Bhutan. Another example of #NeighbourhoodFirst," he said in another tweet. India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring coronavirus vaccines.
The Ministry of External Affairs had said on Tuesday that India would supply COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner, keeping in view the domestic requirements. 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, Covaxin is being produced by Bharat Biotech. The MEA said it will be ensured that domestic manufacturers have adequate stocks to meet the country’s 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.
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