India, ‘Pharmacy of the World’, wins global accolade by exporting COVID-19 vaccines

India has started exporting the anti-Covid-19 vaccines with the first consignments shipped to the neighboring Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan in line with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's commitment that India's production capacities would be used for the benefit of all humanity with no exception to ward off this global pandemic.

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India, ‘Pharmacy of the wWorld’, wins global accolade by exporting COVID vaccines

India has started exporting the anti-Covid-19 vaccines with the first consignments shipped to the neighboring Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan in line with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment that India’s production capacities would be used for the benefit of all humanity with no exception to ward off this global pandemic.

According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Indian government has cleared commercial exports of COVID-19 vaccines with a view to enhancing its vaccine diplomacy.

“First consignment takes off for Bhutan!” MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said on Twitter on Wednesday. And to add: “India begins supply of Covid vaccines to its neighbouring and key partner countries.”

In this vein, the ministry said, on Tuesday, that “supplies under grant assistance” would be shipped to the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, while Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius.

“The pharmacy of the world will deliver to overcome the COVID challenge,” Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar posted on Twitter, referring to the exports.

For its part, the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance highlighted that Indian companies are producing up to half of the world’s vaccine supply, mostly for developing nations so as to allow them acquire this vaccine to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Those supplies, sent to neighboring countries, including Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Nepal were “a gift” from the pharmacy of the world.

Shipments are, also, intended for Brazil and Morocco followed by South Africa and Saudi Arabia as declared by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

As regards the training, the government expressed commitment to provide assistance and training for personnel involved in the vaccine roll-out in all the neighboring countries given the skills of Indian health personnel.

This humanitarian move has been widely welcomed. As a reaction, the Director-General of World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked India for its continued support to global Covid-19 response.

“Thank you, India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for your continued support to global Covid-19 response. Only if we act together, including sharing of knowledge, can we stop this virus and save lives and livelihoods,” Tedros said on Saturday.

Bolsonaro had thanked India by tweeting an image of the Hindu god Hanuman carrying the vaccines to Brazil, in a reference to the Ramayana incident where the god carries the sanjeevni plant to save Lakshman’s life.

It is worth mentioning that India authorized two vaccines; one licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca and another developed at home by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research. Noting that both of them are manufactured locally, to wit; Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca and produced by Serum Institute of India; the world biggest producer of vaccines. The other, Covaxin, manufactured and developed by Indian firm Bharat Bioetch.

Based on the vision of the Indian PM to respond positively to the requests of different countries on the globe, India intends to authorize two other vaccines in the next few months.

Domestically, and according to the Indian Ambassador to France JAWED ASHRAF, India has, for a very long time, been preparing for the vaccination campaign, which kicked off on January 16.

“We have already vaccinated 790,000 people….we intend to vaccinate 13 million people. And by July, we hope to reach 300 million vaccinations, ” the Indian Envoy stated before specifying that: “The campaign is taking place in 20 provinces. We have an infrastructure in place to make it work: a cold chain, among others, consisting of 29,000 relays, 45,000 refrigerators, 41,000 freezers, for basic storage. And we use two vaccines in India. One, Covishield, is developed by AstraZeneca and produced by Serum Institute of India; the other, Covaxin, is manufactured and developed by Indian firm Bharat Bioetch. ”

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