The vaccines are part of India’s “Vaccine Maitri” initiative, and these have also been gifted vaccines to seven other countries in the region. (Photo source: ANI)
Sri Lanka set to receive shortly a huge consignment containing 500,000 doses of COVISHIELD vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). This showcases India’s commitment to its “Neighbourhood First” Policy and SAGAR doctrine in which the island nation has an important position. The vaccines are part of India’s “Vaccine Maitri” initiative, and these have also been gifted vaccines to seven other countries in the region.
The delivery of the COVISHIELD vaccines to Sri Lanka is also a fulfillment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment which he had made to his Sri Lankan counterpart Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in September 2020.
For minimizing the health and economic impact of the pandemic, in the virtual summit at that time, India had offered all possible support to that country.
Who will receive the vaccine?
The Government of Sri Lanka which approved emergency use of the vaccine last week, already has a list of groups including healthcare workers and armed personnel. They will be first to receive the vaccine.
In the New year, as his first foreign visit in 2021, and also the first by a foreign dignitary to Sri Lanka in the New Year, external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar visited that country from January 5-7. It was during that visit that Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena had requested for an urgent delivery of the COVID vaccines. And India has fulfilled that request by supplying almost 5 lakh doses of the vaccine.
India-Sri Lanka Bilateral relations during COVID times
India has played a very important role as a first responder in the region. To ensure financial stability of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has extended a USD 400-million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka. And has gifted around 26 tons of essential lifesaving medicines and equipment to the government of that country. In fact, as has been reported earlier, besides facilitating the repatriation of several hundred Sri Lankan citizens from various Indian cities, New Delhi was the first to send such a consignment on-board two special Air India aircrafts.