Vaccine diplomacy: India to begin exports tomorrow, more requests sent

Written By: Sidhant Sibal WION
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jan 19, 2021, 06.39 PM(IST)

Indian envoy to Cambodia Devyani Khobragade meets Cambodian PM. (Pic by Cambodian PMO) Photograph:( Others )

Story highlights

India reaffirmed its position as the pharma capital of the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year sending HCQ and paracetamol to 150 countries

Cambodia has become the latest country to request India for COVID-19 vaccine even as New Delhi has been reached out by other countries for it. Cambodian PM Hun Sen had met the Indian envoy to Cambodia Devyani Khobragade and requested for the vaccine. 

The Cambodians have not quantified their requests for the Indian vaccines, but it comes, two days after China promised a donation of one million doses. The development shows Cambodians are open to getting more vaccines from India and not totally reliant on China. Cambodia is seen close to Bejing, which makes it more significant.

India will kickstart the vaccine exports on Wednesday. The Maldives will become the first country to receive the Indian coronavirus vaccine tomorrow. The Indian Ocean Island country will receive the Covishield vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) with the Indian consignment arriving at 2:00 pm local time in the country's national capital Male by Air India.

Also read| Nepal requests India's COVID-19 vaccines on priority; India approves

India is sending 100,000 doses under emergency use approvals for vaccinating the frontline workers, healthcare workers, and those with comorbidities.

Meanwhile, the Bangladeshi government has confirmed the WION's break of Monday that India will be gifting vaccines to the country. The Bangladesh foreign ministry in a Facebook post said, "Bangladesh will receive 20 lakh doses of Oxford-Astrazenca Covid-19 vaccines (Covishield) from India as a gift on 21 January."

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A special flight of India carrying the consignment will land at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka the day after tomorrow. The ruling Awami League party of the country also tweeted the same and highlighted that the govt will also procure additional 30 million Covishield vaccines from Serum Institute of India (SII).

This comes even as South African government in a fact sheet released today said that the country will be getting one million doses of the vaccine in January and 500,000 doses in February of the Oxford University-Astrazeneca vaccine from SII.

Also read| Maldives to be the first country to receive Indian COVID-19 vaccine

India reaffirmed its position as the pharma capital of the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year sending HCQ and paracetamol to 150 countries. When it comes to coronavirus vaccines, India has assured that its vaccines will be for the entire humanity, with priority being given to the neighbourhood.

In the neighborhood, talks are on with Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Nepal for the vaccine. In fact, Nepal's Foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali was in India last week and requested India for 20 per cent i.e. 12 million doses of the vaccine. Indian authorities have given approval to two coronavirus vaccines — one being SII's Covishield and another being Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN with the mega vaccination programme starting over the weekend.

Also read| Neighbourhood first: India to gift COVID-19 vaccines to Bangladesh

It's just not the Indian subcontinent that is the focus. Even in Latin America, India is sought after for the COVID-19 vaccine. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday met Indian envoy to Brazil Suresh Reddy.

In a tweet he said, "It was a great pleasure meeting you Excellency! Our relations are growing stronger by the day under your and @narendramodi 's leadership! @PMOIndia @DrSJaishankar @harshvshringla @rivagdas". 

While the elements of the discussions are not known, the meet happens in the backdrop of the Brazilian President writing to PM Modi for 2 million doses of the immunizer produced by the SII.

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