While the world is still reeling under the Wuhan virus, India emerged as a 'saviour' by providing medicines globally across the continent, amply describing the epithet - the pharmacy of the world.
India has delivered 1154.173 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 97 countries till December 31, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.
India on January 16 will mark the first anniversary of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive which started on January 16, 2021, with health care and frontline workers first in line to receive shots. The drive was soon expanded to include senior citizens, people with comorbidities, and, finally, everyone aged 18 and above.
As part of its Vaccine Maitri initiative that was started on January 16 to provide COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world, the Government of India supplied 1154.173 lakh doses as grants, commercial dispatch and under COVAX facility.
The largest amount of doses were provided to Bangladesh comprising 225.928 lakhs, followed by Myanmar, which received 186 lakhs doses.
India supplied 94.99 lakh coronavirus doses to Nepal, 90.08 lakh jabs to Indonesia as well.
Regarding European countries, the largest beneficiary was the UK, which received 50 lakh doses.
Meanwhile, India provided 5 lakh doses to Canada and 8.7 lakh doses to Mexico as well.
India also provided UN Peacekeepers with 2 lakh doses and UN health workers with 1.25 lakh doses.
Driven by its 'Neighbourhood First' policy, India supplied South Asian nations with the biggest amount of COVID doses that were around 542.858 lakh doses comprising of Bangladesh (225.928 lakh), Myanmar (186 lakh), Nepal (94.99 lakh), Bhutan (5.5 lakh), Maldives (3.12), Sri Lanka (12.64) and Afghanistan (14.68 lakh).
Afghanistan has become the world's largest humanitarian crisis after Taliban returned to power in the country and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also stopped sending funds to the country.
India assisted the strife-torn country with 14.68 lakh COVID doses as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said breakdown in health services is having a rippling effect on the availability of basic and essential health care in Afghanistan, as well as on emergency response, polio eradication, and COVID-19 vaccination efforts."
Among Central Asian countries, Ukraine received 5 lakh doses, Tajikistan received 8.91 doses and Uzbekistan received 6.6 lakh doses of COVID vaccines.
Among Latin American countries, India provided Brazil with 40 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccinations, Argentina with 5.8 lakh doses, Bolivia with 2.28 lakh doses and Paraguay with 6 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccinations.
As far as the African continent is concerned, India supplied Morocco with 70 lakh doses, South Africa with 10 lakh doses, Ghana with 17.14 lakh doses, Congo with 17.66 lakh doses and Egypt with 50 thousand doses of COVID vaccinations.
It also delivered vaccinations to the Middle East Asian nations like UAE (2 lakh), and Saudi Arabia (45 lakh).
India as the largest provider of generic drugs globally is often referred to as the Pharmacy of the world. The Indian pharmaceuticals market is the world's third-largest in terms of volume and thirteenth-largest in terms of value.
Under the Vaccine Maitri initiative, India decided to ship out doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine to 'neighbouring and key partner countries'.
India's vaccine diplomacy could provide innovative opportunities to promote India's foreign policy and diplomatic relations between nations in its neighbourhood and across the globe.
India had earlier supplied hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir and paracetamol tablets, as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, masks, gloves and other medical supplies to a large number of countries to help them deal with the pandemic.
India has also carried out capacity building and training workshops for neighbouring countries.
Meanwhile, The Indian government started the 'biggest vaccination drive in the world' by first targeting 30 million front-line workers including health care professionals.
As of date, India is using three vaccines against COVID-19 in its immunization drive. These include Covishield (Oxford AstraZeneca's vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India), Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited) and Sputnik V (developed by Gamaleya Research Institute, Russia). All are two-shot vaccines.
Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has also granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to three other vaccines by Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and Zydus Cadila.
The Indian government through its largest vaccination drive aims to target 100 per cent adult coverage by the end of this year. Meanwhile, India's cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 156.02 crores on Saturday. (ANI)