Consignments of made-in-India vaccines have reached Algeria and South Africa. “Arrival in Algeria. A trusted partnership stands renewed,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted today, using the hashtag “Vaccine Maitri”. “In it together. Made in India vaccines land in Johannesburg, South Africa,” he said in another tweet. India has already sent COVID-19 vaccines to many countries such as Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Brazil and Nepal, among others.
India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines. India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country. While Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin is being produced by Bharat Biotech. South Africa has recorded the most COVID-19 infections and deaths on the African continent, at more than 1.4 million cases and over 44,000 deaths to date.
Since late last year, it has battled a more contagious virus variant called 501Y.V2 that has also been detected in countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia. The shots that arrived on Monday will be checked over roughly 10 to 14 days before inoculations can begin. The SII is due to send another 500,000 doses later this month, but more will be needed to cover South Africa’s 1.25 million health workers, as the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine is administered in two doses.