India also supplies free doses of its own “Covaxin” vaccine to neighboring countries. However, the vaccine is controversial.
India has started selling corona vaccines made in the country abroad. The first deliveries of the British-Swedish vaccine Astrazeneca arrived in Brazil and Morocco on Friday. In addition to selling the corona vaccine, India is also giving hundreds of thousands of doses to countries in the region free of charge.
The “pharmacy of the world”
India is often referred to as the “pharmacy in the world”, as the second most populous country claims to produce around half of all vaccines worldwide. Many of them go to poorer countries for relatively little money. For these countries, the products from India will also be of great importance during the corona pandemic.
Initially, the neighboring countries Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar as well as the Seychelles will be supplied with vaccines free of charge. India also wants to train vaccination staff in the recipient countries, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry. In addition to the Astrazeneca vaccine produced in the country, a second, specially developed vaccine called “Covaxin” has been approved in India.
Covaxin was developed by local company Bharat Biotech with government support. This had granted him approval at the beginning of the year, although he is still in phase 3 of the clinical studies and no data on effectiveness are yet available. As far as the side effects are concerned, much is still unclear, says SRF correspondent Thomas Gutersohn in Mumbai.
Declining willingness to vaccinate in India
India started its wide-ranging vaccination campaign on January 16th. First, health care workers and risk groups are vaccinated against Covid-19. Side effects have been reported.
The se were usually not too serious and temporary – headache, fever – but they persuaded the manufacturer of Covaxin to ask people with previous illnesses not to be vaccinated for the time being,” says Gutersohn. This has led to the country’s willingness to vaccinate to decline. “Lots of people are insecure.”
Compared to the population, the vaccination doses delivered from India are small, especially since the vaccination has to be administered twice: Bangladesh with over 161 million inhabitants received two million vaccinations last week, Bhutan (750,000 inhabitants) receives 150,000 doses, the Maldives (515 million) ‘000 inhabitants) 100’000. “India has promised to deliver more vaccinations – but no longer free of charge,” said Gutersohn.
Free vaccines as influencing agents
For the moment, there is not much more left for the countries than to be thankful for the free vaccine. “While other countries first look for themselves, India releases vaccines – not entirely altruistic, of course,” says the correspondent. “India is trying to exert its influence in the region, including against China.”
The neighboring states have lived in a conflict-ridden relationship since the colonial era.
Beijing is also distributing Covid-19 vaccines at low prices to poorer countries out of political interests. With infrastructure projects, China is increasingly gaining influence in the region. “New Delhi sees Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh as its backyard. With the vaccination campaign, it is now trying to counterbalance and strengthen the dependence of these countries on India, ”said Gutersohn.
So far, two vaccines that are produced locally have been approved in India.