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Over the next few days, as part of its interest in assisting the international fight against COVID-19, India will donate some 500,000 of its COVAXIN COVID-19 vaccines to CARICOM countries.
According to the BBC, COVAXIN was made in India by pharma company Bharat Biotech and is government-backed. It is an inactivated vaccine which means that it is made up of killed coronaviruses, making it safe to be injected into the body.
When administered, immune cells can still recognise the dead virus, prompting the immune system to make antibodies against the pandemic virus.
The matter of provision of the vaccine to CARICOM countries and other locations was discussed at a virtual meeting on Monday between High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr. K.J. Srinivasa; Co-founder and Joint Managing Director, Suchitra Ella, Head (Global Exports) of M/s Bharat Biotech International Ltd. of India, Mr. Venkataraman and the media.
Since 20 January 2021 onwards, India has gifted over 6 million doses of vaccines to countries such as Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and Bahrain based on requests from these countries.
Over the next few days, it plans to gift further quantities to Oman (100,000), CARICOM countries (500,000), Nicaragua (200,000) and Pacific Island states (200,000).
Meanwhile, commercial exports have been sent to Brazil, Morocco and Bangladesh. Further supplies on a commercial basis are likely to be sent to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Canada, Mongolia and others while 10 million doses will go to Africa and 1 million to UN health workers under GAVI’s COVAX facility.
India has one of the largest immunization systems in the world. 27 million infants are immunised against 12 diseases annually. India’s nation-wide pulse polio immunisation drive, which made India polio-free, has set global standards for programmes of this nature.
“Our external supplies, whether as gifts or on a commercial basis, are based on domestic availability, licensing issues and regulatory approvals in the countries concerned,” a release from the Indian High Commission stated, adding:
“We will continue to supply vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner. Decisions on these supplies will, of course, be calibrated against the requirements of the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine at home.”