COVID-19 India dispatches 1.5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine as gift to Bhutan

MUMBAI: As a gift from India, the first consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’ was dispatched to Thimphu, Bhutan from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai in the wee hours of Wednesday.

According to the sources, a consignment containing 1,50,000 doses of Covishield will reach Thimphu today. Bhutan is the first country to receive the Government of India’s gift of the COVID vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

In line with India-Bhutan unique and special relations, India ensured a continuous supply of trade and essential items to Bhutan, despite COVID-19 restrictions.

India so far has provided essential medicines and medical supplies- including paracetamol, hydroxychloroquine, PPEs, N95 masks, x-ray machines and test kits worth over Rs 2.8 cores to Bhutan. It also entered into an “Air Travel Arrangement” or “Transport Bubble” agreement with Bhutan.

India has facilitated the repatriation of over 2,000 Bhutanese nationals stranded in various parts of India. It also facilitated the repatriation of 14 Bhutanese nationals stranded in third countries through Vande Bharat flights to India and their onward journey to Bhutan, sources said.

India has also taken several steps at the request of the Government of Bhutan to facilitate trade and transit during COVID times, including the opening of a new trade route via Torsha Tea Garden (India) and Ahllay (Bhutan). New trade points at Nagarkata, Agartala, and Pandu and Jogighopa riverine ports will be operational shortly, sources added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that India is honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community.

“India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead,” PM Modi tweeted.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a release on Tuesday that the government has received several requests for the supply of Indian manufactured vaccines from neighbouring and key partner countries. India has given emergency use authorisation to two COVID-19 vaccines being manufactured in the country – Covishield and Covaxin. While Covishield has been developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, Covaxin is an indigenous vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The Ministry said that it will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad. (ANI)