Bhutan, the Maldives and Bangladesh will be among the first countries in the neighbourhood to receive Covid-19 vaccines from India as grant assistance, with supplies of millions of doses to six nations set to begin today.
As per the government, a consignment containing 1.5 lakh doses of Covishieldis scheduled to reach Bhutan’s capital Thimphu today at around noon.
This makes Bhutan the first country to receive the Covid-19 Vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), as a gift from India.
Notably, India reaffirmed its position as the pharma capital of the world amid the pandemic last year sending Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol to 150 countries. When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, India has assured that its vaccines will be for the entire humanity, with priority being given to the neighbourhood.
At the request of US President Donald Trump, India lifted a domestic ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine (HQC) and is said to have supplied nearly 446 million HQC tablets and 1.54 billion paracetamol tables to 133 countries.
Besides hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, the drug used for Covid treatment, as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, masks, gloves, and other medical supplies were given out.
Delhi also helped train several neighbouring countries to enhance and strengthen their clinical capabilities, under the Partnerships for Accelerating Clinical Trials (PACT) programme. Training courses were organised for healthcare workers and administrators of partner countries under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a release on Tuesday said that the government has received several requests for the supply of Indian manufactured vaccines from neighbouring and key partner countries. These countries are Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Maldives, and Seychelles.
When it comes to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius, India is still awaiting their confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances.
The MEA said, “India will continue to supply countries all over the world with vaccines” and “this will be calibrated against domestic requirements and international demand and obligations, including under GAVI’s Covax facility to developing countries.”