India says it will prioritize Sri Lanka in providing vaccine

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — India’s foreign minister told Sri Lanka’s president on Wednesday that Sri Lanka will be prioritized when Indian-produced COVID-19 vaccines are ready for export, the president’s office said.

Visiting Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made the pledge when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa asked him for vaccines produced in India, Rajapaksa’s office said in a statement.

India’s drug regulator has approved two vaccines for emergency use for COVID-19 — one developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drug maker AstraZeneca, and another by the Indian manufacturer Bharat Biotech.

Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing company, has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make 1 billion doses for developing nations, including India. However, delivery of the vaccine outside India is likely to take a number of months.

COVID-19 cases have spiked in Sri Lanka in recent months. However, authorities have been undecided on a vaccine until last month.

Jaishankar is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka.

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