Monday, March 8, 2021
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India begins commercial covid vaccine exports today

As India completes nearly a week of its domestic vaccination drive to healthcare workers, it has approved commercial export of the Serum Institute of India manufactured Covishield. The first batches will fly to Brazil and Morocco today, according to the foreign secretary.

The consignment will carry the vaccine made in alliance by UK-based pharma company AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The SII has attained dozens of orders from countries around the world, waiting to procure the shot that can allow them to protect their citizens from the deadly virus’s ever-tightening grip.

Though nations kept requesting it for long, the Indian government had halted the clearance to begin its own immunization program that started last weekend.

As a friendly gesture, India also announced that it will send free doses of the vaccine to neighboring countries Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Maldives. The move is being seen as a strong measure to push the dominating stance of China in the area. Myanmar and Seychelles are in the waiting line to receive the vaccines next.

“The government of India has shown goodwill by providing the vaccine in the grant. This is at the people’s level, it is the public who are suffering the most from COVID-19,” said Nepal’s Minister for Health and Population Hridayesh Tripathi.

In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal to extend India’s capabilities to all mankind, the step is being taken as the commercial consignments will get shipped on Friday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.

“In keeping with this vision, we have responded positively to requests for supply of Indian manufactured vaccines from countries across the globe, starting with our neighbors,” he said, speaking about the free gifts.

“Supply of commercially contracted quantities will also commence from Friday, starting with Brazil and Morocco, followed by South Africa and Saudi Arabia,” he further said.

As the world struggles to contain the spread, Brazil comes just second to the United States in the number of fatalities due to covid-19. The nation has been urging India to send its variant and has accepted to receive 2 million doses of the SII-made vaccine. Last week, Brazil said that it is ready to send its plane too for collecting the order.

Officials said Morocco, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia are also going to receive Serum’s Covishield.