India gifted 40,000 doses of the Made in India Covid-19 vaccine – COVISHIELD, to the Government Antigua and Barbuda today to meet the immediate requirements of vaccinating healthcare workers, frontline workers and those with co-morbidities.
The COVISHIELD vaccine is manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India, Pune, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer in collaboration with Oxford-AstraZeneca. In addition to the doses gifted today, India will also assist Antigua and Barbuda in securing supplies of vaccines at affordable rates from Indian manufacturing companies.
By delivering Covid vaccine within days of its rollout, India has once again demonstrated its willingness and ability to act as a First Responder to crises in the World, including in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Government of India has announced a total donation of 570,000 doses to the CARICOM region out of which 125,000 doses of COVISHIELD vaccine to OECS countries, Antigua & Barbuda (40,000), St. Kitts & Nevis (20,000), Saint Lucia (25,000), St. Vincent & the Grenadines (40,000) arrived in Antigua and Barbuda today. received their share today. These doses of vaccine were received from India by a special charter flight and the RSS is transporting the respective consignments from Antigua & Barbuda to the other countries in the next 24 hours.
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Gaston Browne along with H.E. Dr. K.J. Srinivasa, High Commissioner of India received the consignment of doses of vaccine, in a special ceremony held at V.C. Bird International Airport. Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda spoke on the occasion. He thanked Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. S Jaishankar for the generous donation of Covid-19 vaccines to Antigua and Barbuda which strengthened their hands in the fight against the COVID pandemic.
In his speech on the occasion, High Commissioner highlighted that the gifting of vaccines to Antigua and Barbuda honoured Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to use India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity for helping all of humanity in fighting the crisis. He emphasized the fact that Antigua and Barbuda received the vaccine in the first few days of India’s assistance to friendly countries, highlighted the special place Antigua and Barbuda occupies in India’s Foreign Policy. It also bolstered India’s credentials as the immediate responder for Antigua and Barbuda in times of emergency situations. He reiterated that the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines in Antigua and Barbuda marked another milestone in our bilateral relations. High Commissioner was happy to note that with India’s support, Antigua and Barbuda would be able to intensify the inoculation drive at such an early stage in the global fight against the pandemic. He hoped that the vaccine would help Antigua and Barbuda in saving lives, ameliorating suffering of brothers and sisters of Antigua and Barbuda and bringing the country’s economy back to normal. He quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said that India has always been guided by its ancient philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – one goal. Even during the pandemic, India ramped up its pharmaceutical production – especially of hydrochloroquine and paracetamol – to respond to growing global demands.External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S. Jaishankar also said that India supplied medicines to 150 countries during the pandemic, more than half on a non-commercial basis, to deal with medical complications arising from COVID. HC Dr. Srinivasa quoted Dr. Jaishankar who said “The Bhagavad Gita states do your work with the welfare of others always in mind and Vaccine Maitri=Vaccine Friendship. It may be noted that Media calls our vaccine friendship effort as “Vaccine Diplomacy”.
While inaugurating the world’s largest vaccination drive in India on 16 January 2021, PM Modi had said “Today, when we’ve developed our own vaccine, the world is looking at India with hope. As our vaccination drive will move forward, other countries of the world will benefit from it. India’s vaccine and our production capability must be used for human interest; this is our commitment.” The gifting of Covid-19 vaccines today fulfills the pledge made by our Prime Minister.
During this pandemic, the Governments of India and Antigua and Barbuda worked in partnership to save lives, and ensure medicine and other essential medical supplies to Antigua and Barbuda. India has extended an assistance of US$ 1 million to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda for combating COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance is aimed for improving health infrastructure and capacities in Antigua and Barbuda under a Project “Strengthening national health capacities and reducing socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in Antigua and Barbuda”. The same level of assistance, i.e. US$ 1 million, has been offered to each CARICOM country. This “Quick Impact Community Development Projects” Fund of US$1 million from India was used for improving health infrastructure in Antigua and Barbuda, for procurement of life-saving medical supplies and equipment like Ventilators, etc. Under this assistance, 5 Ventilators, PPEs, 115,000 face masks, 2000 Full Cover Goggles, 10,000 Disposable Impervious Gowns, 2000 Face Shields, 200,000 Examination gloves, Disposable Masks, etc. were facilitated and procurement of these medical supplies have since been completed.Besides these, the Government of India has provided 10,000 Hydroxychloroquine tablets to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as a gesture of goodwill in support of its fight against COVID-19.
India and Antigua and Barbuda share unique and special relations honoured by time and nourished by friendship and collaboration. Our shared values of democracy and rule of law strengthen our bilateral partnership based on mutual trust and mutual respect. Under the leadership of PM Modi, the traditional ties have acquired a new vision and vigour. The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines in Antigua and Barbuda today, marks another milestone in our bilateral relations, that now serves as a model in CARICOM.
Trials of COVID-19 vaccines are progressing well in India. Currently, there are quite a few vaccines in different phases of trials. India’s first indigenous vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology, Pune, is in the third phase of clinical trials. Others like ZyCOV-D developed by Zydus Cadilla in Ahmedabad, and Novavax’s protein subunit vaccine, are also undergoing trials in various stages. Multiple approved vaccines are likely to hit the Indian market in 2021. According to the Indian Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan, at least 18-19 coronavirus vaccine candidates including oral and nasal vaccines are in the pipeline and will be available for use in India in coming few months highlighting India’s predominant role as the “pharmacy of the world”.
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