Indian Navy P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft was loaded with COVID-19 vaccines that will be supplied to Mauritius and Seychelles today.
India has started supplying vaccines on a gratis basis (without charge) to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, according to an earlier statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
A consignment of 100,000 (1 lakh) doses of the Covishield vaccine is expected to arrive in Mauritius today while a consignment of 50,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine is scheduled to reach Seychelles.
Seychelles is only among the four Indian Ocean countries to receive the Covishield vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, as Indian grant assistance.
Seychelles has around 1 lakh residents and the 50,000 doses will be able to cover nearly 25 per cent of the total population. Seychelles was almost coronavirus free till December 2020.
However, a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases has been reported since December resulting in a public health scare in the country. To mitigate the alarming rate of community transmission in Seychelles, the request for an immediate supply of Indian Covishield vaccines was made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of Seychelles to the Government of India.
India's vaccine diplomacy or VaccineMaitri demonstrates India's role as a reliable partner and a net provider of humanitarian assistance in the Indian Ocean region. Mauritius also lies at the heart of India's vision of "SAGAR - Security and Growth for All in the Region."
Mauritius has a population of fewer than 1.3 million inhabitants and is highly dependent on external trade and tourism and hospitality industry, which has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The request for the supply of Indian vaccines has been made from the highest level in the Mauritius government. The donation of 1 lakh doses of Covishield vaccines to Mauritius will cover the vaccination requirement of a considerable percentage of its frontline medical workers and will play a vital role in complementing its ongoing recovery plans from the effects of the pandemic.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, India has extended steadfast support to Mauritius in dealing with the crisis. Mauritius was among the first and largest beneficiaries of India's COVID-19-related assistance.
Under Mission SAGAR, India had supplied 13 tonnes of essential medicines and 10 tonnes of Ayurvedic medicines to Mauritius in April-May 2020. Mauritius was also only among the 3 IOR countries where a special Indian Medical Assistance Team deployed to supplement the local government's efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic (the others being Maldives and Comoros).
Under Mission SAGAR, India had also supplied 4 tonnes of coronavirus related essential medicines, including 50,000 tablets of HCQ, to Seychelles last year.