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Thursday, January 27, 2022

5 lakh doses sent in first vaccine aid after Kabul fell, more soon

🔴 Last month, India sent 1.6 metric tonnes of emergency life-saving medicines to Kabul for a children’s hospital in the city.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: January 2, 2022 7:06:55 am
Another batch of additional 500,000 doses would be supplied in the coming weeks.

For the first time since Kabul fell to the Taliban in mid-August, India has sent 5 lakh doses of Covaxin to Afghanistan as a “gift for the people of Afghanistan”, the government said Saturday. They were taken from India to Afghanistan via air.

Early this year, on February 7, the first consignment of 5 lakh doses of Covishield was sent to Afghanistan, followed by another 4.68 lakh doses through the Covax facility on March 6 — the latest consignment takes the total to 14.68 lakh doses.

Last month, India sent 1.6 metric tonnes of emergency life-saving medicines to Kabul for a children’s hospital in the city.

That and today’s vaccines are seen as a renewed diplomatic push. The political call to differentiate between the Taliban regime and the people of Afghanistan was taken a while ago: that Delhi will reach out to the people of Afghanistan with essential supplies through the United Nations and its agencies.

Explained

Aid diplomacy

Taliban has conveyed to India that its humanitarian aid is more than welcome. The vaccine consignment, coming after life-saving medicine supplies last month, is part of Delhi’s diplomatic strategy to remain engaged with Kabul while keeping an arm’s length from the Taliban for now.

However, making the distinction between the “government” and the “people” of Afghanistan is easier said than done.

The consignment was handed over Saturday to the Indira Gandhi Hospital, Kabul, but sources said New Delhi has little control over who will be administered these Made-in-India vaccines — whether members of the Taliban establishment or the Afghan public.

It is expected that the vaccines will be supplied to many hospitals in the country. The essential medicines sent last month were also handed over to the same hospital through the World Health Organisation.

Another batch of additional 500,000 doses would be supplied in coming weeks.

Incidentally, in Afghanistan, as per the WHO dashboard, from January 3, 2020 to December 29, 2021, there have been 1,57,998 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 7,355 deaths. As of December 26, 2021, a total of 46.74 lakh vaccine doses have been administered.

The MEA added that in the coming weeks, wheat and more medical supplies would be sent.

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