First consignment takes off! Bhutan, Maldives first among 6 countries to receive COVID-19 vaccine from India
New Delhi, Jan 20: With India exercising "neighbourhood first" policy even during the pandemic, it is now ready to provide COVID19 vaccines to the neighbouring countries. Maldives and Bhutan are the first two countries to be provided with vaccines, that will be delivered today (January 20) even as India rolled out the largest immunisation programme in the country on January 16.
Bhutan is the first country to receive the 'Covidshield' vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), followed by the Maldives the same day. The latest developments state that the first consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield' was dispatched to Thimphu, Bhutan from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai in the wee hours of Wednesday.
India so far has provided essential medicines and medical supplies- including paracetamol, hydroxychloroquine, PPEs, N95 masks, x-ray machines and test kits worth over Rs 2.8 cores to Bhutan. It also entered into an "Air Travel Arrangement" or "Transport Bubble" agreement with Bhutan.
Moreover, Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering has said, "The first consignment of the vaccine will arrive in the country very soon." He added, "The plan is to vaccinate all the people together, so we will roll out the nationwide vaccination programme only when we have sufficient doses for all the targetted population."
Besides, Maldives will receive 1 lakh doses of the vaccines in the afternoon today. The MEA said that the first consignment of vaccines has been dispatched for the Maldives. Among all the neighbouring countries, India has has provided the most COVID assistance to the Maldives as it was the first and one of the largest beneficiaries of our Covid related assistance.
Speaking of the other countries, Bangladesh and Nepal will get their first consignment on Thursday, while Myanmar and Seychelles will receive the vaccines on Friday.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that India is honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Calling it a 'Vaccine Maitri', which translates to "vaccine friendship", Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead. #VaccineMaitri"
The Ministry of External Affairs said, "The Government of India has received several requests for the supply of Indian-manufactured vaccines from neighbouring and key partner countries. In response to these requests, and in keeping with India's stated commitment to use its vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of humanity fight the Covid pandemic, supplies under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles will begin from 20 January 2021".
"In respect of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius, we are awaiting their confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances," added the press release.
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 Covid-19 pandemic.
India said it is "mindful of domestic needs and all exports will keep internal demands in mind". "In an ongoing effort, India will continue to supply countries all over the world with vaccines. This will be calibrated against domestic requirements and international demand and obligations, including under GAVI's Covax facility to developing countries," the MEA said.