In what may be described as a goodwill gesture, India has planned to send COVID-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries Bhutan and Bangladesh free of cost as a gift. Nepal is also likely to receive the vaccines from India as a diplomatic outreach.
According to The Bhutanese, the Indian government will provide vaccines to Bhutan free of cost.
"If we have to buy the vaccines then we may have to spend USD 6 mn [Rs 43.89 crore]," the newspaper stated.
"His Majesty was informed by the GoI [Government of India] that they value the old ties with Bhutan and will help Bhutan. We have told GoI that we plan to vaccinate the whole eligible population in one go and they said they understand," it added while quoting Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering.
Bangladesh on the other hand also said that it will receive about 20 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield as gift from India.
"The vaccine that is supposed to be given as a gift is coming on Wednesday," Bangladesh Health Secretary Abdul Mannan said on Monday. "We are getting 20 lakh doses. Vaccines from the Serum Institute of India. This vaccine is in addition to the agreement we have," he added.
Additionally, Nepal is also likely to receive the vaccines from India. Last week, the Nepal government had approved the emergency use of the Covidshield vaccine. The Nepal Embassy said that that India has assured that the "requirements of Nepal would be in priority consideration after the roll-out of vaccines".
No official statement has been made by the Indian government yet for the delivery of the vaccines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi however hinted at aiding its neighbours through his tweets.
On January 16, India commenced its vaccination drive against the coronavirus. India plans to vaccinate around 30 crore people with two doses in the first six to eight months of the year. The recipients include 3 crore doctors, nurses and other front-line workers, to be followed by people who are either over 50 or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to Covid-19