External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday announced that India will gift 2,00,000 Covid-19 vaccines to UN peacekeepers.
The minister made the announcement at the UN Security Council open debate on the implementation of resolution 2532 (2020) on the cessation of hostilities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jaishankar also noted that India is actively working with GAVI, World Health Organisation and ACT Accelerator to fight the pandemic on a global scale. He further added that the country’s contribution has also supported the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund.
"Keeping in mind the UN Peacekeepers who operate in such difficult circumstances, we would like to announce today a gift of 2,00,000 doses (Covid-19 vaccines) for them," Jaishankar told the UN Security Council during a virtual address.
Shortly after the announcement, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti tweeted, "Protecting the Protectors! External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar announces a gift of 200,000 doses of vaccines for UN peacekeepers at #UNSC. India responds immediately to request of @UN Secretary General @antonioguterres."
Jaishankar told the Council that India, “the pharmacy of the world”, has been very much at the forefront of the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. India earlier provided critical medicines, diagnostic kits, ventilators and PPEs to more than 150 countries, about 80 of them on a grant basis.
"Today, the pharmacy of the world is stepping forward to meet the global vaccines challenge," he said, adding that two vaccines, including one indigenously developed, have already been granted emergency use authorisation. Additionally, as many as 30 candidates are under various stages of development, he added.
As part of India’s initiative of "Vaccine Maitri" (vaccine friendship), the country is providing vaccines to the world and is a significant source of supply to the COVAX facility, Jaishankar said.
"Starting with our immediate neighbours, 25 nations across the world have already received Made in India vaccines. 49 other countries will be supplied (with the vaccines) in the coming days, ranging from those in Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa, South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands," he said.
Earlier this week, two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine received WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL). The versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, produced by AstraZeneca-SK Bioscience (AZ-SKBio) and the Serum Institute of India (AZ-SII), are now available for global rollout through the COVAX Facility.
Last month, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the vaccine production capacity of India is "one of the best assets the world has today", and had applauded India for supplying Covid-19 vaccines to nations around the world.
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.
India had airlifted more than 6 million Covid-19 doses to nine countries during phse of the Vaccine Maitri initiative. Contractual supplies to various countries are also being undertaken in a phased manner and New Delhi has said it will gradually supply to the COVAX facility of the World Health Organisation.
(With PTI inputs)