India’s help to countries with vaccines praiseworthy - GulfToday

India’s help to countries with vaccines praiseworthy


India has also given doses to Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

India’s gesture to offer COVID-19 vaccines to all United Nations peacekeepers – nearly 95,000 troops in 12 missions around the world – is noteworthy.

“Keeping in mind the UN peacekeepers who operate in such difficult circumstances, we would like to announce today a gift of 200,000 doses for them,” India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told a UN Security Council meeting on the coronavirus pandemic and conflict zones.

It’s just not the UN personnel who have been provided help to fortify their immunity against the virus. India has also given doses to Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to help them get started with frontline workers as part of its Vaccine Friendship initiative.

It sent 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Afghanistan, the first to arrive in the war-ravaged country, which is still waiting for emergency approval from the World Health Organisation to administer them.

India has invested millions of dollars in Afghanistan over the years in an expansive effort. “The vaccines are being provided on a grant basis,” a government source said.

India’s Serum Institute will ship COVID-19 vaccines to Canada within a month, its chief executive said in a sign a diplomatic row triggered by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on political protests in India was easing.

Last week, however, Trudeau spoke to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and they discussed the two countries’ commitment to democracy.

India has approved the shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to Cambodia and plans to supply them to Mongolia and Pacific Island states, officials said, as supplies arrived in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been giving nearby countries millions of doses of the locally made AstraZeneca PLC vaccine, even as its domestic immunisation programme has just begun.

Modi is using India’s strength as the world’s biggest maker of vaccines for various diseases to improve regional ties.

New Delhi has approved 100,000 doses for Cambodia on an urgent basis following a request to Modi from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, India’s envoy to Phnom Penh said.

New Delhi’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme, Jaishankar pointed out, has provided COVID-19 vaccines to 25 countries, and 49 more from Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa, South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands will get them soon.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Luis Ebrard thanked India for providing the vaccines.

Giving an insight into the problem of vaccine inequality, Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: “Just ten countries have administered 75 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, more than 130 countries have not received a single dose.”

Jaishankar also announced that India was donating 200,000 doses of the vaccine to UN peacekeepers, who operate in difficult conflict situations.Looking ahead, Jaishankar said that the world should prepare for future pandemics and for mutations of the COVID-19 virus.

Jaishankar however denounced “vaccine nationalism” on Wednesday and called for putting the world on guard against future pandemics.

Addressing, through a video link, the Security Council, he said: “Hoarding superfluous doses will defeat our efforts towards attaining collective health security.”

The World Trade Organisation’s incoming chief, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also hit out at vaccine nationalism, which she said would slacken progress in tackling the virus and could erode economic growth for all countries – rich and poor.  New Delhi’s move to help other countries appears to be guided by the Hindu scriptures.

The Scripture says, “Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind” and “this is the spirit in which India approaches the Covid challenge,” Jaishankar added.

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