Colombo, January 28: Under Government of India’s #VaccineMaitri, India has gifted 500,000 doses of the indigenously-made COVISHIELD vaccines to Sri Lanka.
Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay gifted the vaccines at a ceremony in the Bandaranaike International Airport on Thursday, which was, very significantly, a Duruthu Poya day.
Duruthu Poya celebrates Gautama Buddha’s momentous first visit to Sri Lanka twenty five centuries ago and marks the country’s initiation to the teachings of Buddhism. When the full moon spreads its light over the island, business activities cease and Buddhists engage in meditation and meritorious deeds.
After ceremonially handing over the vaccines High Commissioner Baglay prayed at the Gangaramaya Buddha Vihara for the health and wellbeing of the people of Sri Lanka. He also sought the blessings of Ven. Dr. Kirinde Assaji Thero. As per the Buddhist traditions in India and Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner offered food to devotees at the temple
It may be recalled that High Commissioner Baglay had arrived in Sri Lanka to take up his assignment in the Vesak Week in May 2019 with 12.5 tons of medical supplies as a gift by India to Sri Lanka for fighting COVID-19 pandemic.
Oxford-Astra Zeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. This has been approved for emergency use by the Government of Sri Lanka.
The gift from India is in line with India’s continued support to Sri Lanka in fighting the COVID pandemic. Four consignments of medical supplies weighing around 25 tonnes were donated by India, which also organized online experience-sharing programmes for Sri Lankan medical professionals.
The two partners have also put up a joint front in the COVID-19 battle with India and Sri Lanka being the largest contributors to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for SAARC. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had complimented Sri Lanka’s leadership on containing the pandemic.
Guided by ‘Neighborhood First’ and SAGAR policies, about 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been gifted by Indian to neighboring countries, and those in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean Region since 20 January 2021.
Millions of doses of made in India COVID vaccines have also been exported to countries as far away as Latin America and West Asia, and will reach those in the Caribbean and the Pacific too.
In September 2020, Prime Minister Modi told the UN that India’s vaccine capacity will be used to help humanity fight the COVID pandemic. India, which is called the ‘Pharmacy of the World’, supplied essential medicines to fight COVID-19 to 150 countries, more than half of which was as a gift.