Vaccine diplomacy: Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan & Maldives get India's anti-COVID-19 doses


NEW DELHI: Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives have received India's COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance in sync with its Neighbourhood First policy.

India is one of the world's biggest drugmakers and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines.

India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country.

On Thursday, Bangladesh and Nepal received COVID-19 vaccines from India.

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra handed over the vaccine consignment to Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli during a function at the Prime Minister's residence at Baluwatar.

Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi and senior government officials were also present on the occasion.

In the first phase, the vaccines will be administered to frontline health workers, employees and security personnel, according to Tripathi.

India also handed over 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Bangladesh under grant assistance.

The vaccines were provided to Bangladesh at a crucial time when the number of coronavirus cases in this country was rising.

"India had stood by Bangladesh during the (1971) Liberation War, and today, when the pandemic is rattling the world, India again came with gifts of vaccines," Bangladesh foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said.

Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami handed over the vaccines formally to Momen at a formal function in Dhaka.

On Wednesday, Bhutan and the Maldives became the first two countries to receive the COVID-19 vaccines from India.

India sent 150,000 doses of Covisheild vaccines to Bhutan and 100,000 doses to the Maldives.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar shared on Twitter photos of the consignments reaching the two countries.

Bhutanese Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji thanked India for the "generous gift".

"Our profound gratitude to the GoI (Government of India) for the generous gift of 150,000 doses of Covishield vaccines that Bhutan received today. Deeply grateful to GoI for its abiding friendship and unconditional support to Bhutan's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," he said on Twitter.

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in a tweet, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the vaccines.

"A short while ago, a flight from India with a 100,000 doses of the CoviShield vaccine arrived in the Maldives, renewing our hopes for a resolution to the Covid 19 crisis soon. Our heartfelt thanks to PM @narendramodi," he said.

It is learnt that a consignment containing 1.5 million doses of Covisheild vaccines will reach Myanmar on Friday.

In a major announcement, India on Tuesday said it will send COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to six countries -- Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday and supplies to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius will commence after confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances.

The Ministry of External Affairs said India will supply COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner keeping in view the domestic requirements.

In a statement, the MEA said India has received several requests for the supply of Indian-manufactured vaccines from neighbouring and key partner countries. (PTI)