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India is giving away millions of coronavirus vaccine doses as a tool of diplomacy

NEW DELHI — India started vaccinating its own population against the coronavirus only a few days ago, but it is already using its manufacturing heft to generate goodwill with its neighbors. India’s government has made the calculation that it has enough vaccine doses to share. The result is a form of vaccine diplomacy that appears to be unlike any other in the world.

Since Wednesday, the Indian government has sent free doses to Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives — more than 3.2 million in total. Donations to Mauritius, Myanmar and Seychelles are set to follow. Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are next on the list.

The shipments reflect one of India’s unique strengths: It is home to a robust vaccine industry, including Serum Institute of India, one of the world’s largest vaccine makers. Early in the pandemic, Serum Institute formed a partnership to produce the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. By this year, it had already stockpiled 80 million doses. Some of that production will be delivered this month to the ­Covax initiative backed by the World Health Organization to distribute vaccines to poorer countries.

On Thursday, a fire broke out at a building under construction at Serum Institute’s headquarters in which five people died, New Delhi Television reported. Serum Institute said the blaze would not impact its production of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Read More at


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