What’s in the news?
- India will soon begin to ship out lakhs of doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine to neighbouring countries, with the first batches expected to reach Bhutan and the Maldives among several countries by special planes as a grant or gift.
Pharmacy of the world
- Announcing the shipments, PM Narendra Modi said that India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community.
- External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said the “pharmacy of the world will deliver to overcome the COVID challenge”. He said shipments to Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles would commence this week, while those to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius are awaiting necessary regulatory clearances.
- The release of the shipments is part of the government’s “Neighbourhood First” initiative, and will make India the first country to reach COVID-19 vaccines in South Asia, ahead of China which has promised but not so far delivered, and the World Health Organisation and GAVI’s vaccine alliance programme.
- The region’s preference for Indian vaccines, including the Covishield from the Serum Institute of India (SII) developed with Oxford University and Astra Zeneca, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, is based on the cost, easier storage requirements and geographical proximity. Pakistan has neither requested nor is India discussing supplies to it at present.
- Created in 2010, the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) is a global health partnership of public and private sector organizations dedicated towards creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
- GAVI’s strategy supports its mission to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.
- Its partners provide funding for vaccines and intellectual resources for care advancement. They contribute to strengthening the capacity of the health system to deliver immunisation and other health services in a sustainable manner.
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