As a beneficiary of India’s vaccine diplomacy, Sri Lanka will on Thursday receive a consignment of 500,000 doses of ‘Covishield’ vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
This gift of Covid-19 vaccine doses to Sri Lanka is a part of India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative under which India has gifted vaccines to seven other countries in the region, sources said.
This humanitarian gesture amid the pandemic is in accordance with India’s commitment to its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and SAGAR doctrine in which Sri Lanka has a prominent position.
The delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine doses to Sri Lanka is a fulfilment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during the Virtual Bilateral Summit held in September 2020.
The Sri Lankan government has finalised the priority list of vulnerable groups including health care workers and armed personnel who will be first to receive the vaccine. Sri Lanka approved emergency use of the vaccine on January 23.
In line with Prime Minister Modi’s statement that India sees international cooperation in the area of fight against the Covid-19 pandemic as its duty, his government has played the role of the first responder in the region. It has extended a USD 400 million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka to ensure financial stability of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Modi government also gifted approximately 26 tonnes of essential lifesaving medicines and equipment to Sri Lanka. India was the first to send such a consignment onboard two special Air India aircraft. The government also facilitated the repatriation of several hundred Sri Lankan citizens from various Indian cities.