UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photograph:( Reuters )
India has airlifted more than 6 million COVID-19 doses to nine countries in Phase-I under its initiative termed "Vaccine Maitri"
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday lauded India's role in the world as vaccine making hub. He applauded India for supply of COVID-19 doses to countries around the world. India is called pharmacy of the world and it is world's biggest makers of vaccines. Indian companies like Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have played instrumental role in manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.
"I would like to say how much we count on India. I mean, India has one of the most advanced pharmaceutical industries. India played a very important role in the production of generics for use that was a very important element of democratisation of access to medicines all over the world," Guterres said.
"..we strongly hope that India will have all the instruments that are necessary to play a major role in making sure that a global vaccination campaign becomes possible. I think that the production capacity of India is one of the best assets the world has today, and I hope the world understands that it must be fully used," he said.
India has airlifted more than 6 million COVID-19 doses to nine countries in Phase-I under its initiative termed "Vaccine Maitri". Contractual supplies to various countries are also being undertaken in a phased manner and New Delhi has said it will gradually supply to the COVAX facility of the World Health Organization.
COVAX is the global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level.
This month, COVAX had announced that, pending WHO emergency use listings, nearly 150 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate are anticipated to be available in the first quarter of 2021, via existing agreements with the Serum Institute of India (SII) and AstraZeneca.
The Joe Biden administration has also applauded India for sending crucial supplies of the COVID19 vaccine to a host of South Asian nations, describing India as "a true friend" who is using its pharma to help the global community.
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. The country plans to vaccinate about 300 million citizens in the first six months.
Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have received India's COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance in sync with its "Neighbourhood First" policy.
(With PTI inputs)