The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has once again praised India’s efforts in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Ghebreyesus also commended Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sending Covid-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries, hoping that other nations will also follow India’s example. Taking to Twitter, he said, “Thanks, India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for supporting vaccine equity. Your commitment to COVAX and sharing COVID-19 vaccine doses is helping 60+ countries start vaccinating their health workers and other priority groups. I hope other countries will follow your example”.

India is supplying Covid-19 vaccines to various countries, including those in its neighbourhood, under the ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme. Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech International Limited’s Covaxin have been granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) in India. The world’s largest drive against the pandemic began in the country on January 16, with the second phase scheduled to begin on March 1.

India’s first phase of Covid-19 vaccination for frontline and healthcare and frontline workers is set to conclude on 1 March 2021. The second phase of vaccination will commence on 1 March, in which individuals aged above 60 and those aged over 45 with comorbidities will be inoculated in both government and private clinics. People getting jabs at private clinics will be charged for their shots whereas those getting vaccinated in government centres will be provided the service free of cost.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on February 12 said that India has provided over 229 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines to various countries out of which 64 lakh doses have been supplied as grant assistance and 165 lakh on commercial basis. MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India would continue to take forward the global vaccine supply initiative and cover more countries in a phased manner.

Consignments of coronavirus vaccine doses were supplied as gifts to Bangladesh (20 lakh), Myanmar (17 lakh), Nepal (10 lakh), Bhutan (1.5 lakh), the Maldives (1 lakh), Mauritius (1 lakh), Seychelles (50,000), Sri Lanka (5 lakh), Bahrain (1 lakh), Oman (1 lakh), Afghanistan (5 Lakhs), Barbados (1 Lakh) and Dominica (70,000), he said. Srivastava said countries which received vaccines on commercial basis are Brazil (20 lakh), Morocco (60 lakh), Bangladesh (50 lakh), Myanmar (20 lakh), Egypt (50,000), Algeria (50,000), South Africa (10 lakh), Kuwait (2 lakh) and UAE (2 lakh). The vaccines are even being sent to Latin American countries. India, the largest drug producer in the world, is currently manufacturing two COVID-19 vaccines- Covishield and Covaxin. While Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India in Pune, Covaxin is being produced by Bharat Biotech.