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MEA to brief ambassadors accredited to India on Modi govt Covid response, vaccine development


New Delhi: In an unprecedented exercise, India’s ministry of external Affairs (MEA) will brief all ambassadors accredited to India next week about the Modi government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine development programme for the country.

Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla will lead the efforts and hold a presentation on the critical issue for the Delhi-based diplomatic corps, ET has reliably learnt. India’s national expert group on vaccine administration will be present on the occasion to brief the envoys. Diplomatic corps from various continents will be present on the occasion.

The government is also exploring arranging a visit for the envoys to some vaccine production and diagnostics centres, according to a person familiar with the development. The idea is to also collaborate for joint vaccine production in future and export of vaccines to interested foreign partners.

While the MEA and Shringla has been briefing envoys and senior officials from the partner countries on India’s Covid response over the last few months, this will be first mega and consolidated exercise as Delhi steps up its diplomatic engagement to emerge as key global player in the fight against Covid, observed a diplomatic source who did not wish to be identified.

“India is the pharma capital of the world and Delhi has fought from the front assisting others while it has a huge population to cater at home. This will enhance India’s global stature as a key responder to the crisis and therefore the next week’s meet is an important endeavour,” said another diplomatic source based in Delhi.

India has joined hands with key partners – USA, Israel, Russia, Australia and EU – in either conducting joint research to frame solutions against the pandemic or jointly develop the vaccine. The fight against Covid has been key item on the agenda of every diplomatic meet at summit, foreign minister or foreign secretary levels held either virtually or physically over the last few months.

Besides, India has come forward to assist neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar to jointly develop vaccines against Covid. Myanmar also received doses of anti-Covid drugs during Shringla’s recent visit there. The move has been hailed by the Myanmar administration ahead of general polls there early November.

India is a leading exporter of generic medicines across the world. A few months back, India exported HCQ to 150 countries based on their request to fight Covid at the height of pandemic. India accounts for 70 per cent of the global production of hydroxychloroquine, which is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Tablets were not only exported on a commercial basis but also gifted to various countries as a goodwill gesture based on India’s traditional foreign policy approach.

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