Ninety-two countries have approached India for Covid-19 vaccines, bolstering New Delhi’s credentials as the vaccine hub of the world.
Highly placed sources said that scores of countries are approaching India, as the word spreads that Indian vaccines are showing negligible side-effects since the immunization drive in the country began on Saturday.
India is sending its domestically developed vaccines to several neighboring countries including Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar.
In a letter to PM Modi on Tuesday, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of the Dominican Republic has also requested for inoculation, signally that the demand for Indian jabs has acquired a transcontinental appeal. “As we enter 2021 and persevere in our fight against Covid-19, Dominica’s population of 72,100 is in urgent need of enough doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. I, therefore, request, with great humility and respect, that you assist us by donating the doses we need to make our population safe (optimally 70,000 first and second doses),” wrote Skerrit.
In other parts of Latin America, Brazil, which has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world next only to the United States, has sent a special plane to pick up Indian vaccines from Pune.
A Brazilian plane is expected to fly the first 2 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine purchased by the government’s Fiocruz biomedical institute.
According to a Reuters report from Sao Paulo, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the documentation is ready for bringing the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine being produced at the Serum Institute of India.
Brazil’s Anvisa has scheduled a meeting for next Sunday to decide on the emergency use of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford as well as one developed by China’s Sinovac Biotec.
Meanwhile, the Bolivian government had also signed a contract with India’s Serum Institute for the supply of 5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.
President Luis Arce said that combined with a recent deal to buy 5.2 million Sputnik V vaccine doses from Russia, Bolivia now expected to be able to inoculate all of its vaccinable population.
The sources said that in tune with Prime Minister Modi’s message that India’s vaccine approach is intended to heal humanity, India would not be averse to provide vaccines to Pakistan, as part of a drive to eliminate the virus globally.
And in the course of time, if the Chinese vaccine does not work, India would not hesitate to supply jabs to Beijing as well. The sources pointed out that India’s vaccine exports to China may go a long way in addressing India’s adverse trade balance with the Middle Kingdom.
So far, China’s vaccine has shown patchy results. For instance, after Thailand has discovered that the efficacy of the two million doses of the Chinese Sinovac Biotech Covid-19 vaccine, has dropped dramatically.
The Bangkok Post said that the Thai Ministry of Public Health has requested further information about the vaccine it has ordered from China following a report “it might not be as effective as first thought” even as it goes ahead with its plan to receive and administer the vaccine from Sinovac Biotech.
“We are asking for information directly from Sinovac, so we are waiting for their response to get all the facts,” Supakit Sirilak, Thailand’s Director-General of Medical Science Department was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Singapore too has confirmed that the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech will have to go through regulatory scrutiny and authorization by the country’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) before being rolled out for the public.
“We will go through the data carefully when it comes, rather than depending on reported numbers. It’s better to rely on official data that we receive from Sinovac itself,” said Singapore’s Health Minister Gan Kim Yong according to a report in The Straits Times.