Prime News, National (New Delhi), January 22:- India only started vaccinating its own population against the coronavirus a few days ago, but it is already using its manufacturing heft to generate goodwill with its neighbours.
The government has made the calculation that it has enough vaccines to share. The result is a form of vaccine diplomacy that appears to be unlike any other in the world.
Since Wednesday, the Indian government has sent free vaccines to Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives – more than 3.2 million doses in total. Donations to Mauritius, Myanmar and Seychelles are set to follow. Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are next on the list.
The shipments reflect one of India’s unique strengths: It is home to a robust vaccine industry, including Serum Institute of India, one of the world’s largest vaccine makers.
Early in the pandemic, Serum Institute formed a partnership to produce the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. By this year, the company had already stockpiled 80 million doses. Some of that production will be delivered this month to the Covax initiative backed by the World Health Organization to distribute vaccines to poorer countries.
On Thursday, a fire broke out at a building under construction at Serum Institute’s headquarters in which five people died, reported New Delhi Television. The company said the blaze would not impact its production of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In the race to combat the pandemic, several countries are using vaccine production as a route to enhance their global influence. But the government seems to be the first to deliver multiple gifts to neighbouring countries.
China has made a concerted push to sell its vaccines to countries around the globe for months but only recently announced donations to Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines. It is not clear if the free vaccines have been shipped. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).