UNITED NATIONS: World leaders thanked India for its help and support in combating the coronavirus pandemic through “early and meaningful” shipments of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as they addressed the high-level UN General Assembly session this year.
Several world leaders expressed their gratitude to India and other nations for the help provided through exports of vaccines and other critical medical supplies in their national statements at the 76th UNGA session’s General Debate that ran through September 21-27.
Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, in his address, expressed his sincere gratitude to the countries and organisations “who expressed solidarity and had provided valuable support to my country and people in the battle against this pandemic, at a very early stage.”
“Our thanks extend especially to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, India, China and also the USA,” Santokhi said.
Nauru President Lionel Rouwen Aingimea said his country’s efforts to respond to COVID-19 and vaccinate its people “would not have been possible without the valuable support provided by our partners. We are truly grateful to our genuine friends Australia, India, Japan and Republic of China (Taiwan), for their ongoing assistance.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said Abuja remains grateful for the assistance received from its partners and friends all over the world.
“Vaccination is the key to our safe emergence from the pandemic. We fully support the COVAX initiative from which we have benefitted. We also thank the United States of America, Turkey, India, China, European Union, and others for the vaccines provided,” Buhari said.
Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Philip Pierre said the “insidious” nature of the coronavirus has allowed it to sneak across even the most heavily patrolled borders, and Saint Lucia has experienced waves of highs and lows in managing this pandemic.
“We extend our deepest gratitude to international institutions such as the COVAX Facility, and our many bilateral partners such as India and the United States of America, for their commitment to ensuring that we in Saint Lucia and by extension the Caribbean region, were not further disadvantaged by our inability to access vaccines,” he said.
India will resume the export of surplus COVID-19 vaccines in the fourth quarter of 2021 under the ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme and meet its commitment to the COVAX global pool.
COVAX is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.
The Indian government had stopped the export of COVID-19 vaccines after the second wave of the pandemic hit the country in April this year.
India has exported over 66 million vaccine doses to nearly 100 countries through grants, commercial shipments and the COVAX facility.
Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves said it is “timely to remind all of us that the noblest form of solidarity is to give not from the abundance or surplus that we may have but from the little that we possess; that is the lesson of the proverbial widow’s mite.”
“On behalf of the Caribbean, I thank the government of the Republic of India for their early, and meaningful gift of Covishield Astrazeneca vaccines.
Sadly, at least one country in the North Atlantic has refused to recognise Covishield for entry of persons into that country,” Gonsalves said.
He was referring to the Serum Institute of India manufactured vaccine that was not included in the list of eligible COVID-19 vaccines recognised under the UK’s new international travel norms.
Ghana had also termed as “unfortunate” the development in “some countries in Europe” of not recognising the Covishield vaccine manufactured in India for travellers.
“One unfortunate development appears to be the recent measures on entry into some countries in Europe, which suggest that Covishield, the OxfordAstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, is not recognised by these countries,” President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said.
“What is intriguing is the fact that this vaccine was donated to African countries through the COVAX facility. The use of vaccines as a tool for immigration control will be a truly retrogressive step,” he had said.
Prime Minister of Fiji Josaia Bainimarama said after one full year with zero local COVID cases, the “insidious” Delta variant crept into the country and sparked a deadly second outbreak.
“After a slow start, while we scrambled to acquire enough vaccines, we are winning the battle. Over 98 per cent of adults across our 110 populated islands have one jab of the vaccine, and more than 67 per cent are fully vaccinated. We thank India, Australia, New Zealand and the United States for helping us secure the doses we needed,” he said.
Dominica’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Kenneth Darroux expressed gratitude for the vaccine doses it received from India and other nations.
“We consider ourselves fortunate and express gratitude for being a recipient of donations of vaccines from the Governments of the Republic of India,” China, UK, the US and through the COVAX facility.
Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Khadka said Kathmandu remains grateful to “our immediate neighbours-India and China for their support in fighting the covid crisis.”
He also thanked “friendly countries” like the United States, Britain, Japan and others for providing vaccines, critical medical equipment, and medicines in Nepal’s fight against the pandemic.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “we are investing more than USD 620 million to procure millions of vaccine doses, and providing technical advice, training of health workers, and cold chain support to friends and neighbours.
“Now this includes a USD 100 million contribution to the Quad Vaccine Partnership with our good friends the United States, India and Japan.
This will support a boost in production by at least one billion doses by the end of 2022, and provide access to vaccines and delivery support to countries across the Indo-Pacific. This is the right thing to do,” he said.
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said in addition to the UN and other partners, “I thank the Government of India for your unconditional support all these years. We will continue to work closely with all our partners.”
Tonga’s Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa expressed sincere gratitude to all development partners, including the governments of New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, US, India, United Arab Emirates and international organizations including the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Bank for their “most generous financial and humanitarian assistance.