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India to ship 20 lakh vaccines to Dhaka, Pak explores choices

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While India plans to ship 20 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh, one other neighbour, Pakistan, is exploring choices to get made-in-India vaccines, both by way of a worldwide alliance for vaccines or by way of the bilateral route, The Indian Express has learnt.
On Monday, authorities in Bangladesh confirmed that on Wednesday, January 20, a specifically outfitted aircraft will carry 20 lakh doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine — manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India beneath the identify Covishield — to Dhaka. The consignment will probably be handed over to the Bangladesh authorities by the Indian High Commission in Dhaka. Bangladesh has had greater than 5 lakh instances of Covid, with about 7,900 deaths thus far.
Pakistan’s move to supply Indian vaccines comes after the nation’s drug regulator, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), over the weekend accepted Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. Pakistan has reported greater than 5 lakh Covid instances and almost 11,000 deaths.
Sources mentioned the pondering in Islamabad is that it could actually get the vaccine by way of Covax, an alliance arrange by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organisation. The alliance has pledged free vaccines for 20 per cent of the inhabitants of round 190 international locations, together with Pakistan. Pakistan expects to get the primary consignment from Covax simply after the beginning of the second quarter of 2021.
But, for the remaining inhabitants, Pakistan hopes, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in addition to Bharat Biotech-ICMR’s Covaxin might be procured by way of bilateral preparations. Alternatively, Pakistan can procure the India-made vaccines by way of a 3rd nation, however which will push up prices.
A supply advised The Indian Express that one of many vaccine producers in India has over the previous few weeks reached out to the Pakistan authorities on the provision of vaccines.
While tensions between India and Pakistan have impacted bilateral commerce between the 2 international locations, the provision of “life-saving medicines” is exempted from restrictions.
Bilateral commerce between the 2 neighbours has almost come to a standstill — first after the Pulwama terror assault in February 2019 and later, after the particular standing of Jammu and Kashmir was withdrawn.

Sources in New Delhi mentioned the Pakistan authorities has not but formally approached the Indian authorities for the vaccines. Given the tensions, vaccine diplomacy could possibly be key to unlocking the ties.
Pakistan officers mentioned that over the weekend, they registered the AstraZeneca vaccine with DRAP since its efficacy is over 90 per cent.
Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, who confirmed that DRAP had accepted AstraZeneca, advised Dawn, “We have registered the vaccine as its efficacy is over 90 per cent and will try to get it through alternative arrangements. What is more important is that it will enable us to acquire the vaccine through Covax as it cannot be allowed in the country without DRAP’s approval.”
With the Pakistan authorities asserting that it’s going to present vaccines “free-of-cost”, sources mentioned the institution prefers AstraZeneca and China’s Sinopharm to Pfizer and Moderna. Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine has a greater efficacy than the Chinese vaccine, might be saved at a a lot greater temperature than Pfizer and isn’t very costly.

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