India’s vaccine diplomacy receives global accolades, nation heading in right direction

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India has provided over 229 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines to various countries out of which 64 lakh doses have been supplied as grant assistance and 165 lakh on commercial basis, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.

The “vaccine diplomacy” aims to raise New Delhi’s global profile and push back against China. As the world’s largest vaccine producer, India is at the forefront of supplying affordable shots against COVID-19 to low- and middle-income countries.

India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest producer of vaccines, is producing millions of doses of the shot developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

China, too, has given its locally developed vaccines to countries such as Indonesia and Turkey, and promised it to many others across Africa, Asia and South America.

However, South Asian countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had asked India for supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in Britain.

The government has donated millions of doses to neighbouring countries including Bangladesh, which initially had an agreement with China before opting to sign a deal with the Serum Institute.

So far, with the vaccination infrastructure still being set up, India has exported more than three times the amount of doses that it has supplied to its own citizens, reported the Wall Street Journal. Chinese vaccine makers, meanwhile, have been delaying shipments abroad as new outbreaks of the virus keep erupting at home, it said.

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India will continue to take forward the global vaccine supply initiative and cover more countries in a phased manner.

“As of date, we have supplied a total of 229.7 lakh doses to the global community. Of these, 64.7 lakh doses have been supplied as grant while 165 lakh doses have been supplied on a commercial basis,” he said at a media briefing.

Srivastava said consignments of coronavirus vaccine doses were supplies as gifts to Bangladesh (20 lakh), Myanmar (17 lakh), Nepal (10 lakh), Bhutan (1.5 lakh), the Maldives (1 lakh), Mauritius (1 lakh), Seychelles (50,000), Sri Lanka (5 lakh), Bahrain (1 lakh), Oman (1 lakh), Afghanistan (5 Lakhs), Barbados (1 Lakh) and Dominica (70,000).

Countries that received vaccines on a commercial basis are Brazil (20 lakh), Morocco (60 lakh), Bangladesh (50 lakh), Myanmar (20 lakh), Egypt (50,000), Algeria (50,000), South Africa (10 lakh), Kuwait (2 lakh) and UAE (2 lakh).

In the coming weeks, vaccines will be supplied to more countries in Africa, Latin America, CARICOM and the Pacific Island states, he said.

India on January 19, in a major announcement, had said that it will send COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to several countries. India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring anti-coronavirus vaccines.

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