New Delhi, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- India, the world’s largest vaccine making nation, on Wednesday sent coronavirus vaccines to Bhutan and the Maldives, beginning an ambitious diplomacy campaign as part of its neighborhood first policy.
The government, under a grant assistance program called “Vaccine Maitri” or vaccine friendship, will also supply vaccine doses to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Seychelles while it was awaiting regulatory clearances from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Mauritius.
The government shipped 150,000 shots of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and 100,000 shots to the island nation of the Maldives.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that the government was shipping the made-in-India vaccines to “neighboring and key partner countries” in keeping with the “stated commitment to use vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of humanity fight the Covid pandemic.”
Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed said in Tweeter that 100,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine arrived in the Maldives.
“I sincerely thank (Indian) Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and his government for prioritizing regional safety and aiding neighboring countries so swiftly,” Nasheed wrote, posting pictures of an Air India plane at the Male airport.
According to a statement from Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering’s office, an Indian Air Force transport aircraft landed at the Paro airport in the afternoon, “ferrying Bhutan’s first consignment of Covid-19 vaccine.”
“The aircraft delivered 150,000 doses of Covishield vaccines from India, making Bhutan the first country to receive the gift.”
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a statement that the government would ensure that domestic manufacturers would have adequate stocks to meet local requirements while supplying to partner countries in the coming months.
“Keeping in view the domestic requirements of the phased rollout, India will continue to supply Covid-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner.
“It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad,” said Srivastava.
The Maldives and Bhutan, with a population of almost 531,000 AND 760,000 inhabitants respectively, will require more than 2.5 million vaccine doses to immunize their citizens.
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 peak of the pandemic. EFE-EPA