World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for providing coronavirus vaccines to other countries under the COVAX initiative, the global health body’s vaccine sharing scheme.
Tedros said that the vaccines given by India will help over 60 countries to start their vaccination drive by inoculating their healthcare workers and other priority groups. “I hope other countries will follow your example,” the WHO head wrote on Twitter.
COVAX is co-led by the WHO, the GAVI vaccines alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and UNICEF. It was launched in June in an attempt to prevent poorer countries being pushed to the back of the queue as wealthier nations bought billions of doses for their populations.
The COVAX initiative brings together both self-financing countries, who are wealthy enough to purchase their entire vaccine supply, and low-income ones who will need support including funding to inoculate their populations. Two-thirds of COVAX’s two billion doses will go to low-income countries among its 190 participating countries.
On February 24, India delivered its first 6,00,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India, to Ghana’s capital Accra under the COVAX initiative. The shots, part of an initial tranche for low and middle-income countries, will be used by Ghana to start a vaccination drive from March 2 that will prioritise frontline health workers and others at high risk, according to Reuters.
India, the world’s biggest maker of vaccines, has shipped over 1.7 crore vaccine doses to more than two dozen countries, including around 60 lakh as gifts to partners such as Bangladesh and Nepal.