Just days after India started vaccinating frontline workers against Covid-19, the country has already has started sending the vaccines to its trusted friends. Today India send the first batch of vaccines to Maldives and Bhutan as grant, after which both the countries expressed their gratitude for the same.
Maldives thanks India for “most generous gift”
As India on Wednesday shipped 1 lakh doses of Serum Institute made Covishield vaccine to Male to boost their fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih thanked PM Modi, the Indian government and the people of India for the “most generous gift”.
The Maldives got the COVID-19 vaccine as a goodwill gesture from India and it was sent to Male within 96 hours of its India’s countrywide roll-out.
Solih expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Indian government during his address to the nation. Speaking in fluent Hindi, Solih said, “This vaccine is a generous donation from the Government of India to the people of the Maldives. On behalf of the people and the Government of the Maldives, and in my own name, I thank the friendly people and the Government of India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Maldives Foreign Minister @abdulla_shahid thanks Indian Prime Minister @narendramodi in fluent Hindi🇮🇳 for thinking of Maldives first to gift 100,000 #Covishield vaccines. Says, ‘Dhanyawaad, Dhanyawaad, Dhanyawaad’. India’s vaccine diplomacy #VaccineMaitri a moving gesture. pic.twitter.com/pwaEZZBRzP— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) January 20, 2021
Solih further added, “With the grace of Allah, we have secured enough vaccines to kickstart vaccination drive in Maldives. Our goal is to provide free vaccines to all Maldivians and residents in the coming months.”
The shipment of Serum-developed vaccines was handed over to the Maldives Government by the Indian High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir in a special ceremony held at Male airport. Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Health Minister Ahmed Naseem were present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the Indian High Commissioner said, “With the help from India, Maldives will be able to commence its vaccination drive early in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.” He also added that the arrival of the vaccines in Male marked yet another milestone in the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Bhutan becomes the first country to receive India’s gift of COVID-19 vaccines
Besides the Maldives, Bhutan also received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from today India today. An Indian Airforce AN-32 aircraft delivered the first consignment of 150,000 doses of Serum Institute’s Covishield vaccines to Bhutan on Wednesday. The vaccines were received by the Bhutanese PM Dr Lotay Tshering.
As per the official press release by the Indian government, the AN32 aircraft carried the vaccines to Bhutan, just 96 hours after India’s ambitious roll-out of the immunisation exercise. Bhutan became the first country to receive the Government of India’s gift of the COVID-19 vaccines, the press release said.
The Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj handed over the consignment of vaccines to Dr Tshering, Health Minister Dechen Wangmo, in presence of prime minister Lotay Tshering, foreign secretary Kinga Singye and a few other senior officials at the Paro International Airport.
Receiving the delivery, PM Tshering thanked India saying that the vaccines are a gift from a ‘trusted friend’ who has been with Bhutan all through the decades. He also said, “as we celebrate the arrival of the vaccine as the new milestone in our battle to beat the pandemic at home, we applaud the gesture that signifies the compassion and generosity of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, and the people of India for the wellbeing of the humanity.”
The Prime Minister noted that India has sent the vaccines to Bhutan while the vaccination has just started in India. He said, “it is of unimaginable value when precious commodities are shared even before meeting your own needs, as opposed to giving out only after you have enough.”
India has assured that enough doses will be sent to Bhutan to cover its target population of around 533,500 with two doses of the vaccine. The remaining consignment will be shipped soon.
India to honour its commitment of helping neighbours in their fight against coronavirus
On Tuesday, India reiterated its commitment of helping Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday in their fight against the pandemic by providing them with COVID-19 vaccines. Earlier this month, India had stated that it would ship COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives and Mauritius in the next few weeks, in a bid to help them in kickstarting their vaccination process against the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 vaccines will soon be delivered to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius after confirmation of pending regulatory clearances. The first shipment will be a goodwill gesture and subsequently, countries concerned would be able to get the vaccines on a payment basis from either Serum Institute or Bharat Biotech.