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India, one of the world’s leading drug makers, will be supplying coronavirus vaccines to six neighbouring countries, starting on Wednesday.

Initial supplies will be sent under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said.

This means they will be supplied as aid and the countries will not pay for them.

The ministry said further requests for Indian-manufactured vaccines from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius would be confirmed after regulatory clearances.

India will also provide training for personnel involved in the vaccine rollout in all the neighbouring countries.

India’s drugs authority has given emergency authorisation to two COVID-19 vaccines.

One is developed by Britain’s Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, and the other by Indian firm Bharat Biotech with the backing of India’s top medical body, the Indian Council of Medical Research.

India began its own programme to vaccinate around 300 million people on Saturday.

“India will continue to supply COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner.

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“It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad,” the ministry said.

“The Pharmacy of the World will deliver to overcome the COVID challenge,” Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted.

Indian firms produce about half of the world’s vaccine supply, mostly for developing nations, according to the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.

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(dpa/NAN)

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