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India plans to export Covid vaccines to the Gulf, Myanmar, Seychelles and North African nations

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NEW DELHI: After the immediate neighbourhood, Delhi is considering sending vaccines to the Gulf, North African and SE Asian countries, including Myanmar and Seychelles, as India expands its soft power appeal globally as a reliable development partner.

In respect of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius, India is awaiting confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances from those countries. Others in the list of prospective recipients include Brazil, India’s biggest partner in Latin America, and Morocco, Delhi’s key security and economic partner in North Africa, ET has learnt. Another African country which has shown interest is South Africa.

India’s oldest strategic partner in West Asia, Oman, besides Bahrain, are also interested to acquire vaccines from here.

Beginning Wednesday, Covishield vaccines reached Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal as India’s gift, edging past China. Delhi’s gesture was acknowledged by the leadership of the respective neighbouring countries.

“The government of India has shown goodwill by providing the vaccine in grant. This is at the people’s level, it is the public who are suffering the most from Covid-19,” said Nepal’s minister for health and population Hridayesh Tripathi.

Expressing similar sentiments, a Bangladeshi official said, “India is making the AstraZeneca vaccine which makes all the difference. It can be stored and transported at normal refrigerated temperatures and countries like Bangladesh have that facility.”

Talking about the government’s decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead.”

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in his tweet, said: “India fulfils the commitment to give vaccines to humanity. Supplies to our neighbours will start on 20th January. The Pharmacy of the World will deliver to overcome the Covid.”

The Ministry of External Affairs said the supply will be made after ensuring there are adequate stocks to meet the domestic requirements, and added, “India will continue to supply Covid-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner.”

The MEA said prior to the delivery of vaccines, a training programme, covering administrative and operational aspects, is being conducted for immunisation managers, cold chain officers, communication officers and data managers of the recipient countries, at the national and provincial levels. India is also helping with the training of health workers in some of these countries and the setting up of infrastructure to administer the shots, a source said.

India is one of the world’s largest vaccine producers –– 60% of global vaccines are produced in India. Indian producers supply 1.5 billion doses annually to more than 150 countries. India is the largest supplier of DPT, BCG and measles vaccines globally. WHO sources 70% of its essential immunisation vaccines from India.

India has been a leader in the logistics of effective vaccine delivery, sources said, adding, “The entire vaccine supply line has been digitised through an Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN). The Covid vaccine rollout is being monitored through a digital Covid-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) that will be used for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.”

Bharat Biotech seeks emergency use approval for Covaxin in Philippines

Bharat Biotech submitted an application on Thursday for the emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine in the Philippines. Bharat Biotech, which has developed Covaxin with the Indian Council of Medical Research, is the fourth vaccine maker to apply for emergency use in the Philippines. “Major step for #VaccineMaitri and #AtmanirbharBharat as we seek to elevate bilateral ties to new heights. @bharatbiotech applies for EUA for India-developed COVAXIN in the Philippines,” tweeted the Indian Embassy in Manila.

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