India plans to offer 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to its neighbors as it draws up a policy to supply vials to countries across the globe, people with knowledge of the matter said.
A state-run company will buy vaccines from the Serum Institute of India Ltd. and Bharat Biotech International Ltd. for supplying to Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Seychelles and Mauritius, (not Pakistan) the people said, asking not to be identified as the plan is still under discussion. Some of supplies may be free and treated as aid, they added.
The first batch of the vials will be shipped over the next two weeks, the people said. The government will then offer the vaccines to countries in Latin America, Africa and the former Soviet republics. A spokesperson for Bharat Biotech couldn’t immediately comment while a spokesman at Serum declined to comment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to tap country’s leadership in vaccine manufacturing by helping countries battling the pandemic and raise the South Asian nation’s profile to rival China, which is also supplying its home-grown inoculations around the world. Brazil, with more than 8 million cases, has sought urgent supplies and so has South Africa.