Even as relations between India and Pakistan remain tense, the neighbouring country will receive 45 million India-made doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Informing about the Imran Khan government’s decision, Federal Secretary National Health Services, Regulation, and Coordination Aamir Ashraf Khawaja told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that so far, about 27.5 million people had been vaccinated against COVID-19, including frontline and healthcare workers and the elderly, reported The Nation. Khawaja added that the delivery of India-made vaccines under the Gavi arrangement will start arriving this month.
Although he didn’t reveal the name of the vaccine, it’s likely to be the one produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), which has signed an agreement with the Gavi Alliance.
Like India, Pakistan has also decided to first administer vaccines to frontline workers, health workers, and people over the age of 65. Khawaja said the country will receive a 45 million vaccine package, of which 16 million will be delivered by June.
Gavi had signed an agreement with Pakistan in September 2020. Though earlier the vaccines were scheduled to arrive by the first week of March, the delivery has been delayed by a few more weeks.
Gavi is an international organisation created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. Gavi’s partners include the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and big pharma companies.
In a major announcement, India on January 19 said it will send vaccines under grant assistance to several countries. India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring anti-coronavirus vaccines.
The country has provided more than 361.94 lakh doses of anti-coronavirus vaccines to various countries, out of which 67.5 lakh doses have been supplied as grant assistance and 294.44 lakh on a commercial basis, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said last month.
Apart from Pakistan, India has already sent consignments of anti-coronavirus vaccine doses as gifts to countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Oman, Afghanistan, Barbados, and Dominica. Countries that received the vaccines on a commercial basis include Brazil, Morocco, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Egypt, Algeria, South Africa, Kuwait, and the UAE.