NEW DELHI — India has is supplying area countries with the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Serum Institute of India offering support and foster bilateral relations its under the “Neighbourhood First” policy.
India launched the world’s largest vaccination drive on Jan.16 to vaccinate 300 million people by the summer, starting with 10 million health-care workers. India currently has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases but the daily number of cases have been decreasing significantly since last fall.
Consignments of the Covishield vaccine have been dispatched to Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Seychelles and Mauritius as part of a donation program.
The Serum Institute of India entered into an agreement with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca to manufacture Covishield in December. Distribution began domestically for doctors and frontline workers shortly after the deal was made.
“I have not yet experienced any side effects of the vaccine,” said D.Y. Medical superintendent Dr. Priti Bansal, who was vaccinated in the early weeks of January.
However, it is still uncertain when the vaccine will be available for the general public.
“I am going to be vaccinated but I think everyone needs to get it whenever their turn comes,” said Dr. Rajesh Bansal, the senior consultant in Nephrology at D.Y. Medical, .
As of now, India has supplied Bhutan with 150,000 doses, Maldives with 100,000 units, Bangladesh with two million doses and Nepal with one million doses of the Covishield vaccine.
“I think it’s great that we can help others but I hope that we will be able to produce enough for our own population,” Bansal said.
Myanmar received its consignment of 1.5 million doses of the Covishield vaccine under the Neighbourhood First policy.
Apart from neighbouring South Asian countries, India has also provided Brazil and Morocco each with two million doses of the vaccine under commercial agreements with the countries.
The government calculated India is to have a surplus and is in a position to share, creating a form of vaccine diplomacy with other countries.
“We should at least provide for their doctors and frontline workers if we have a surplus,” said Dr. Sharat Latta, head of the Ear, Nose and Throat section at Jaypee Hospital in Noida, India.
India is still awaiting confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances concerning supplying Covishield to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a release it will continue to supply countries all over the world with vaccines.
“This is a very proud moment for Indians around the world,” Bansal said.