In India, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be highly difficult for both citizens and the government. There has been an exponential increase in demand for healthcare equipment and supplies due to surging cases across the country. Despite the fact that India is fighting this war with all its vigour, receiving assistance from our partner countries and neighbours during this period has not only been gratifying, but it has also affirmed India's geopolitical participation and collaboration.
Russia has been a longstanding and time-tested partner for India. The country is one of many that has continued to provide aid and medical assistance to India in its fight against the virus. In April, the Russian foreign ministry announced that the country will be sending over 22 tonnes of medical supplies including 20 oxygen production units, 75 lung ventilators, and 200,000 packs of medicines to India.
India also received first consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of Sputnik V vaccine on May 1, the day country opened vaccination for all above 18 years. By May-end about 3 million doses is expected to be supplied in bulk. In June, it is expected to increase to 5 million and production in India is expected to start in August. Sputnik-V vaccine will add to India's arsenal to fight the pandemic. This third option of vaccine will augment India’s vaccine capacity and accelerate the vaccination drive. The production of the vaccine will take place in three phases. First, supply from Russia which has already started. Second, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) will send supplies to India in bulk which will be ready for use but it will have to be filled in various bottles in India. In the third phase, the Russian side will transfer the technology to an Indian company and the Indian company will produce it fully. All these three put together will be about 850 million doses.
Russia has also proposed 'Sputnik Light' vaccine whose regulatory approvals are in progress. But once those regulatory approvals are given, then Sputnik Light will be one more area of cooperation between India and Russia.
In these uncertain times, Russia's support to India is admirable, and it will go a long way in helping India battle the second wave. The contribution also demonstrates the close ties that exist between the two countries, which are only expected to grow stronger in the future.
This blog has been authored by Sashreek Jindal.