Representational Image. (HT file)
Representational Image. (HT file)

Vaccine Maitri: India dispatches Covishield to Bhutan, Maldives

Further shipments by India will be made for Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, according to a statement by MEA
By Shalaka Shinde
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 03:49 PM IST

Covid vaccine export from India began with a maiden long-haul journey to Bhutan followed by Maldives on Wednesday. The Oxford university-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine left Serum Institute of India, Pune, on Tuesday night by road before being dispatched to Paro, Bhutan, in an Indian Air Force aircraft, according to an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official. A statement from the Indian Air Force is awaited.

“First consignment takes off for Bhutan! India begins supply of Covid vaccines to its neighbouring and key partner countries,” wrote Anurag Srivastava, ministry of external affairs spokesperson, on Twitter as a SpiceJet aircraft left for Bhutan on Wednesday.

Srivastava also confirmed flight movement to Maldives. The vaccines were sent to the two countries under the Vaccine Maitri initiative.

“India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead,” PM Modi had tweeted on Tuesday night.

The vials reached Mumbai airport on a truck, according to Kunal Agarwal, Co-founder, Koolex Cold Chain Solution which undertook the road transport.

From Mumbai airport, the vials were transported to Bagdogra airport, West Bengal, on a SpiceJet flight, according to an AAI official.

Also read | Bhutan, Maldives first to benefit from India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’

“The vaccine boxes were supposed to go from Bagdogra to Paro, Bhutan, on a Pawan Hans helicopter which was supposed to come from Gangtok, Sikkim. However, due to heavy rainfall in Gangtok, the helicopter could not take off. Finally, with a go-ahead from MEA, the vaccines were ferried on Indian Air Force aircraft,” said Subramani P, Director, Bagdogra International Airport.

Further shipments by India will be made for Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, according to a statement by MEA.

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