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India keeps its promise — begins supply of Covid-19 vaccines to key partner countries

India is playing a big role in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in the region

Fulfilling the promise of helping its neighbours and key partner countries in the war against Covid-19 , India starts vaccine supplies under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday. The government said that supply of Indian manufactured Covid-19 vaccines is in keeping with India's stated commitment to use the country's vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of humanity fight the Covid pandemic. Up next after necessary regulatory clearances are Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius.  
Linking global health to foreign policy has been happening for a long time but when a country of 1.3 billion people – which has just begun its massive nationwide vaccination drive only a few days ago – is going all out to help its friends in the region, it surely enhances its stature globally. India's vaccine initiative is winning hearts the world over, and more importantly, saving precious lives. It is because of the big role that India is playing in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in the region that it continues to receive requests for the supply of Indian manufactured vaccines from several nations.
Only last week, while congratulating India on the remarkable success in production of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines, Nepal, which had till Tuesday evening reported 1,969 Covid-19-related fatalities, had requested for early provision of vaccines. Irrespective of the KP Oli government committing a series of foreign policy blunders over the past few months, the Himalayan neighbour will be amongst the first recipients of India's vaccine supplies starting Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, country's Health Minister Zahid Maleque assured his countrymen that the Covid-19 vaccination program will start in Dhaka first after the arrival of the vaccines from India.
The minister said that Bangladesh will receive a total of two million doses of vaccines "as a gift from the Indian government" and it will arrive in the country's capital on Thursday.
Bhutan, which had requested India for help in procuring one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, is expected to get the first supplies on Wednesday along with Maldives. Country's Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji had assured that the Government of India has prioritized Bhutan's request.
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 also be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad, said the External Affairs Ministry.
Prior to the delivery of vaccines, a two-day training programme, covering administrative and operational aspects, started today for immunization managers, cold chain officers, communication officers and data managers of the recipient countries, both at national and provincial levels.
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 has also provided training to several neighbouring countries to enhance and strengthen their clinical capabilities, under the Partnerships for Accelerating Clinical Trials (PACT) programme. Separately, several training courses have been organized for healthcare workers and administrators of partner countries under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, sharing their experience in dealing with the pandemic.
India will continue to supply vaccines to countries all over the world, an exercise which will be calibrated against domestic requirements and international demand and obligations, including under GAVI’s Covax facility to developing countries.