India miles ahead of China in vaccine diplomacy
New Delhi, Jan 22: India is clearly gaining the edge over China when it comes to vaccine diplomacy.
Free shipments containing the first batch of Covishield which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India have already reached many nations. 2 million doses were supplied to Bangladesh, while 1 million was given to Nepal as a gift under the Neighbourhood First Policy.
1.5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine were sent to Bhutan while 1 lakh were dispatched to the Maldives. India is also planning on supplying vaccines to Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Morocco.
Bangladesh foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said after receiving the consignment said, India stood by Bangladesh during the Liberation war of 1971 and today when the pandemic is rattling the world, India again came with gifts of vaccines.
Nepal and Maldives both said that India has shown goodwill by providing the vaccine. The two nations also thanked India for the gift. External affairs minister S Jaishankar said in a tweet, "Nepal receives Indian vaccines. Putting neighbours first, putting people first!" "Touchdown in Dhaka. #VaccineMaitri reaffirms the highest priority accorded by India to relations with Bangladesh."
While India is being praised by its neighbouring nations for the Vaccine diplomacy, the same is not the case with China. Nepal was promised the Sinopharm shots from China, but a clearance is still awaited.
Bangladesh too was supposed get 1.10 lakh doses of the Sinovac Biotech vaccine from China. However there is a deadlock as Bangladesh has refused to contribute towards the development cost of the vaccine.
India on the other hand will give away nearly 20 million doses of vaccines to its neighbours. India is also helping with the training of health workers in some of these countries.
It's a well-crafted, calibrated series of actions you are seeing, they confirm the validity of our 'neighbourhood first' policy," former Indian ambassador Rajiv Bhatia told Reuters.