India To Help Neighbouring Countries First With Surplus COVID Vaccines
New Delhi: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced on Monday that India will resume the export and donations of excess vaccines next month. This was announced a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the US. The issue is likely to be raised by US President Joe Biden.
“We will help other countries and also fulfil our responsibility towards COVAX… Neighbouring (countries) first,” Mandaviya was quoted as saying on Monday.
India halted vaccine exports in April as it had its own population to focus on inoculating as infections increased manifold. India is the world’s biggest maker of vaccines overall.
The government wants to vaccinate all of its 94.4 crore adults by December and has so far given at least one dose to 61 per cent of them.
The export resumption come prior to PM Modi’s visit to Washington starting on Tuesday. Vaccines are expected to be discussed at a summit of the leaders of the Quad countries — the United States, India, Japan and Australia.
The renewed export drive, known as ‘Vaccine Maitri’ will prioritise the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX and neighbouring countries first, Mandaviya said.