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India’s vaccine diplomacy becomes China’s headache

India's vaccine diplomacy adds to China's concerns

A concerned China is keeping a close watch on India as indigenously made Covid 19 vaccines reached several countries including the neighbours under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Neighbours’ First policy. The Chinese media highlighted that New Delhi’s vaccine diplomacy would push India’s overall image on the global stage.

As the World Health Organization (WHO) along with many countries recognised New Delhi’s contribution to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese media said that the Modi government’s vaccine diplomacy “shows India's mentality of competition with China.”

“Choosing Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka among the first batch of countries to receive Covid-19 vaccines shows India's mentality of competition with China. India believes that it has already won over the Maldives, but it still needs to win over Nepal,” the state-owned Chinese tabloid Global Times said. “If India provides free vaccine, its image in these countries will improve,” the news organisation noted.

Acknowledging that India has the capacity to produce mass vaccines, the newspaper added that “such an order of vaccine provisions is based on the consideration of India's interests and political influence.”

It further said that Modi wants to build a circle of south Asian countries that are loyal and friendly to India. As many as 92 countries have evinced interest to procure Covid 19 vaccines from India. India has already supplied Serum Institute of India (SII) manufactured vaccines to its neighbours. That apart, several other countries including Brazil, Morocco, Saudi Arabia are also receiving the jabs under contractual agreements.

“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 ensure that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

Bangladesh, which has already received 20 lakh doses of Covishield from India as a gift, is procuring another 3 crores under a commercial agreement.

SII has developed Covishield vaccines in India. The vaccine has been developed jointly by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

Aided by lower prices, India is touted as the pharmacy of the world. It currently supplies over 50 per cent of global demand for various vaccines, 40 per cent of generic demand in the US and 25 per cent of all medicine in the UK.

Even in the initial phase of the pandemic, India exported bulk doses of Hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol tablets to various countries including the US.