India vows Covid vaccine supply to neighbours after meeting local demand | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: With the impending rollout of vaccines scheduled for next week, the government is gearing to walk a delicate tightrope between vaccine diplomacy and prioritising Indian citizens.
Key international partners like Brazil and South Africa, among others, are beating a path to the door. The Indian government has clarified that there is no ban or restrictions on export of vaccines. But it is clear that the first priority would be to vaccinating Indian citizens.
The Centre constituted the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) in August, which is providing guidance on prioritisation of population groups, procurement and inventory management, vaccine selection and vaccine delivery and tracking mechanism.
With the UK-variant of Covid-19 popping up in India, the government is keen to speed up the vaccination process.
Apart from Indians, top-level sources averred that the first group of countries to get the vaccine from India would be its immediate neighbours — Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Maldives and Sri Lanka. “It makes no sense for Indians to be vaccinated, without our neighbours also being vaccinated,” said officials.
Bangladesh has already approved the import of Serum Institute’s Covishield vaccine, even tying up a co-production deal. Modi and even foreign secretary Harsh Shringla have clarified that Bangladesh would be a “priority” recipient. Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday declared that Myanmar too would get early dibs on the Indian-manufactured vaccine.
Nepal and Bhutan too would be early recipients. In Colombo today, foreign minister S Jaishankar said,“We are now looking at post-Covid cooperation and I carry back with me Sri Lanka’s interest in accessing vaccines from India and I shared with the Hon’ble Foreign Minister, as Prime Minister Modi has said, India sees International cooperation in this area as its duty.”
PM Narendra Modi has stated on numerous occasions that India would make sure that the country provides vaccines for the world. “We will keep our promise,” said a top official. The manufacturers’ production timelines will determine how many are available.
A mix of domestic demand and diplomatic imperatives will be employed to make sure commitments are honoured, said officials.

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