More than a week after India’s top diplomat pledged priority for Sri Lanka in providing coronavirus vaccines, a report says that up to 20 million doses would be distributed by India to neighbouring countries in the next two weeks.
It is not clear at this stage whether the vaccines will be free for Sri Lanka, how much each will cost if not free, or how many doses will be delivered.
On Friday, US financial news network, Bloomberg News, reported citing a source that an Indian state-run company would buy vaccines from the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech International for supplying to Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Seychelles and Mauritius.
The plan was still under discussion, Bloomberg said.
Some supplies may be free and treated as aid, the source told Bloomberg.
The first batch of the vials would be shipped over the next two weeks, Bloomberg quoted the source as saying.
A Indian High Commission spokesman last night referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the launch of the all-India rollout of COVID-19 vaccination drive yesterday. Mr. Modi said, “India is guided by a human-centric approach that will always work towards furthering global good. We have received a request from the Government of Sri Lanka for supplying COVID-19 vaccines. Guided by our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, requisite steps are being undertaken to ensure its early supply with a view to contain the spread of the pandemic as well as help in economic revival. Discussions between the two sides towards finalising necessary modalities and relevant decisions are under progress.”
During Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s visit to Colombo last week, he said Sri Lanka would be prioritised when the India-produced vaccines were available.
In Beijing, on Tuesday, January 12, Sri Lanka also handed over a request for Chinese vaccines.
(Source: The Sunday Times – By Kapila Bandara in Hong Kong)