Diplomats, including from Pakistan and China, offered coronavirus vaccines
After starting its vaccination drive on January 16, New Delhi has offered made-in-India vaccines to diplomatic corps, including to those from Pakistan and China. A letter was sent by the External Affairs Ministry to missions, based in the national capital, revealing that vaccinating foreign officials is being considered. The vaccinations will be voluntary, the letter underlined, reports Indian Express. Here's more.
Over 20 lakh have been vaccinated till now
The Ministry of Health revealed that 20,23,809 corona warriors had been inoculated by Tuesday with the first dose of either Covishield or COVAXIN. While Covishield is the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being mass-produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), COVAXIN has been developed by Bharat Biotech. The government will begin vaccinating those above 50 and those having co-morbidities after three crore healthcare and frontline workers.
Government offering vaccines as a goodwill gesture
Now, the government of India has offered vaccines as a gesture of goodwill and solidarity to eligible foreign diplomats "accredited to all Diplomatic Missions, including Consulates, United Nations and its specialized agencies and other international organizations, based in India," as well as their family members. The program will be in accordance with the "phased plan of the domestic roll-out," the letter added.
Diplomats asked to reveal details, like co-morbidities
While the letter revealed that diplomats can choose to not get inoculated, it is voluntary for them to take the offer. The Ministry informed them that the fine-print, like time-frame and venues, are being discussed. The foreign officials were asked to furnish certain details, including information about co-morbidities. The number of diplomats and their family members eligible for vaccination would be roughly 10,000.
Diplomats will respond after checking with capitals
A few diplomats told the daily that they welcomed the offer, but will give a reply after consultations with their home countries. Whether India's vaccines have been approved by their nations or not will also dictate their response. To note, some countries have already administered the vaccine to their diplomats, but many are still without any protection against the fatal disease.
India has so far transported vaccines to nine countries
Tellingly, India has been winning hearts globally with "vaccine diplomacy." So far, over six million doses have been airlifted to nine countries. Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu, who is the Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, told the UN Security Council on Monday that the nation will also provide vaccines for the COVAX initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO).
'Contractual supplies to various countries also being undertaken'
"We have already airlifted more than six million doses to nine countries in Phase-I as grant assistance. Contractual supplies to various countries are also being undertaken in a phased manner. We will also gradually supply to the COVAX facility of the WHO," he said.