Vaccine Bandhan – Nursing the Neighbourhood Vaccine Maitri

Priyajit Debsarkar

The Republic of India has sent an exemplary global example of providing free assistance in the form of COVID-19 vaccines under its foreign policy of “Neighbourhood First Approach” reaching out to friends, partners and brothers in the region to begin with and beyond in due course – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal Seychelles and Sri Lanka were to reive the first consignments. 

India for years has somehow struggled to match the pace and the hard cash weight of predominantly Chinese investments in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives, where China is building ports, roads, bridges, infrastructure and power stations as part of its Belt and Road Initiative and other economic corridors like CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). But the demand for vaccines in these countries is extremely desperate to revive their tourism-dependent economies, one of their primary key drivers has offered Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government latitude to claw back lost ground and turn the tide of the pandemic in favour of the umbilical cord connection India shares in the entire Sub- Continent. The care of neighbours is at the core and in a true spirit of unconditional support and cooperation.

Bangladesh has received the highest first wave of vaccines in the entire region which unequivocally demonstrates the deep-rooted resolve in commitment in respective governments. It is also to be noted that commercial exports of vaccines, especially in the neighbourhood will also first begin with Bangladesh receiving the initial batch of the same soon. 

India has committed to donate approximately anything from 12 million to 20 million shots to its neighbours in the first wave of free assistance over the next three to four weeks. However, from the very start of the Covid19 crisis India played a pivotal part be it rescuing stranded citizens of all the neighbouring countries when the pandemic was raging like wild fire in the Middle Kingdom. 

India is also helping with the training of health workers in some of these countries and the setting up of the infrastructure to administer the shots. The approach is a well-crafted, calibrated series of actions and plays to the core strengths of India in science and pharmaceutical sector. Since the advent of pandemic India has supplied lifesaving medication from Remdesivir to Hydroxychloroquine along with Paracetamol to meet global demands. Also providing the manufacture and supply of ventilators, personal protective equipment and rapid COVID19 test kits bear testimony to the obligation to confront the virus with firm strength and determination.

Around 90 plus countries have already reached out to India for the COVID-19 vaccines. Several African, Latin American, Caribbean nations, Middle Eastern countries apart from some countries in Europe are waiting eagerly for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being made in India by Serum Institute of India (SII) to be delivered at an urgent basis.

There cannot be a price for life, nevertheless as rightly referred to as the Pharmacy of the world, the vaccine will prove that perseverance in battling the perils of the planetary pandemic in a selfless, sturdy and sympathetic strategy will overcome.

Statistics –
2,000,000 (Twenty Lakhs) does have reached Bangladesh. 
150,000 (One and half Lakhs) doses were delivered to Bhutan. 
1,500,000 (Fifteen Lakhs) doses destined Myanmar. 
100,000 (One Lakh) doses for Maldives.
100,000 (One Lakhs) doses have arrived at Mauritius.
1,000,000 (Ten Lakhs) doses to Nepal.
50,000 Fifty thousand bound for Seychelles.
Huge quantity is being sent to Afghanistan soon (can be up to ten lakhs, awaiting final regulatory clearance)
A considerable quantity is being sent to Sri Lanka very soon (can be up to five lakhs, awaiting final regulatory clearance)
Commercial Consignments 
Two Million Doses have been sent to Brazil (Brazil recently cancelled the contract to the Chinese Vaccine and switched the order to India).
Two Million Doses have been sent to Morocco.

(Priyajit Debsarkar, is an author & Geo-political analyst based in London

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