UNITED NATIONS: At the forefront of the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, India has supplied more vaccines to people around the world than inoculating its own citizens, according to New Delhi's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN K. Nagaraj Naidu.
Addressing the General Assembly on Friday, he said: "India will not only be vaccinating 300 million of its own frontline workers over the next six months but in the process has also supplied vaccines to over 70 nations. In fact, as of today we have supplied more vaccines globally than have vaccinated our own people."
He said that 200,000 doses of vaccine that India is gifting to UN Peacekeepers will be arriving in Denmark on Saturday.
From there, the Covishield vaccines will be repackaged and sent to peacekeepers around the world, according to Farhan Haq, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Naidu was speaking at an informal Assembly session on the "Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines" that adopted by over 180 of the UN's 193 members.
The signatories of the declaration said: "We pledge to treat COVID-19 vaccination as a global public good by ensuring affordable, equitable and fair access to vaccines for all, with COVAX being the appropriate mechanism to guarantee it."
The World Health Organization (WHO) set up the COVAX to provide the vaccine to developing countries.
"While the vaccine challenge has been resolved, we are now confronted with ensuring the availability, accessibility, affordability, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Lack of global cooperation and disparity in the accessibility of vaccines will affect the poorest nations the most," Naidu said.
With new dangers arising during the pandemic, Naidu called for collaboration on genomic surveillance to track virus mutations and variants and exchange information in a timely fashion.
There are about 82,000 UN peacekeepers and the 200,000 doses of Covishield would be more than enough to vaccinate all of them.
Haq said: "If we have more than we need, we're clearly going to distribute what we can in a fair way."
Covishield's advantage is that it has been approved by the WHO and can be used right away.
China has pledged 300,000 doses of its vaccines to the peacekeepers, but its jabs have not been authorised by the WHO.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also offered to provide vaccines to UN staff.
Haq said: "I would also like to reiterate our gratefulness to those countries and all those who have pledged to help our peacekeepers and our other staff." (IANS)