India donates 100,000 Covid vaccine doses to Kenya
India has donated a consignment of 100,000 doses of the Covishield Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which arrived on Thursday at exactly 6.30pm aboard Air India flight.
The Indian government has been supplying developing countries around the world with free coronavirus vaccine doses despite concerns that this "vaccine diplomacy" will come at a cost to vulnerable citizens.
"India had promised us a donation which it is delivering today," Dr Willis Akhwale, Kenya's vaccine advisory taskforce chairman told the Nation by phone.
This comes a day after Kenya approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, although the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) told the Nation that the Health ministry was not yet decided to use it as Sputnik V is not included in the national vaccination programme.
The Indian initiative, popularly known as "vaccine maitri" (Hindi term for vaccine friendship), was put in motion by Prime Minister Narendra Modi early this year as the sub-continent embarked on its roll-out .
"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 (on January 20), and more will follow in the days ahead," the premier said in January.
Covishield, the most popular Covid-19 vaccine in India, was born of a collaboration between the Serum Institute of India and top British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca, which was involved in the development of the much-talked about adenovirus vector vaccine with the University of Oxford.
The vaccine was launched in December 2020, having been found to be safe and effective, according to Serum Institute (the world's largest vaccine maker) CEO Adar Poonawalla.
"We want to make three hundred to four hundred million doses by December and over one billion doses of the jab over the next year for India and other low and middle income countries," said Dr Poonawalla.
The Ministry of Health intends to purchase 11 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab which it intends to use to vaccinate five million people.