Stepping up its vaccine diplomacy and focusing on its neighbourhood first policy, India will give one crore vaccines free of cost to its immediate neighbours – Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Mauritius, excluding Pakistan with the latter exploring other options in a desperate bid to procure Made in India vaccines.
As Bangladesh prepares to welcome specially equipped plane carrying 20 million doses of Covishield which has been manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, Pakistan has been left high and dry and have to make do with the questionable Chinese vaccines.
Pakistan has not been included in the list because of its constant support to state-sponsored terrorists with the single-minded agenda of wreaking havoc in India. Such is the country’s predicament that with a population of 220 million people, the Imran Khan government has made arrangements to procure a paltry of 1.1 million coronavirus vaccine doses from a Chinese firm. Additionally, the doses are earmarked only for the frontline workers and the vulnerable population raising serious questions over the Imran Khan government’s ability to procure the cure for its citizens.
It is pertinent to note that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has approved Covishield for emergency use over the last weekend. Pakistan is now looking at global alliances for procuring Made in India vaccines.
“We have registered the vaccine as its efficacy is over 90 per cent and will try to get it through alternative arrangements. What is more important is that it will enable us to acquire the vaccine through Covax as it cannot be allowed in the country without DRAP’s approval,” said Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan.
While countries across the world move at a breakneck speed to procure the cure, Pakistan, as usual, is reliant on donations from the United Nations to receive 45 million vaccine doses at no cost. Even then, the country will only be able to vaccinate 20 per cent of its population.
For the remaining population, Pakistan is hoping to secure Made in India vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin through bilateral agreements and third countries.
Under “Vaccine Maitri”, Maldives and Bhutan will be the first recipients of the doses of the Covishield vaccine followed by Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Seychelles. Subject to necessary regulatory approvals, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius will also benefit from its benevolence.
“India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead,” tweeted Prime Minister Modi.
As Pakistan finds itself excluded from the list, the Imran Khan government will have to beg from other countries and global alliances for Made in India vaccines. If that option also fails, Imran Khan will have no option but to approach the Indian government through diplomatic machinery for the vaccines.