Even as India’s covid vaccine supplies reached South Africa, Indian Prime Minister Modi has assured South African President Cyril Ramaphosa that India has the capacity to fulfill the needs of the African continent. 

Both leaders spoke to each other on Thursday evening with the key focus being on the covid pandemic and cooperation on the Covid vaccines. The Indian PMO readout said, the 2 leaders discussed the “continuing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” and in this context, the “vaccination campaigns being undertaken in their respective countries.”

PM reiterated to the South African President that “India’s considerable productive capacity for pharmaceuticals and vaccines would continue to serve the needs of all countries, including those in Africa.” Other than South Africa, Indian Covid vaccine supplies have reached Morocco and Egypt in the continent.  New Delhi will also be giving one crore (10 million) doses of India-made COVID-19 vaccines to Africa under GAVI’s covax facility.

During the Modi-Cyril talks, both leaders also discussed possibilities of collaboration between the 2 countries on “various international fora, to facilitate access and affordability of vaccines and medicines.” This comes even as last year saw India and South Africa jointly proposing a proposal that calls for suspension of Intellectual property rights on COVID vaccine patent. The proposal has got many backers from developing countries, but the EU, US remain the main opponents of it. 

India, which is the largest producer of vaccines in the world, has so far sent Covid vaccines to 16 countries. These are Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Brazil, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait and South Africa.  56 lakh doses of India made vaccines have been gifted, while over100 lakh doses of vaccines have been sent commercially. In coming weeks, Indian vaccines are scheduled to reach CARICOM countries (the Caribbean), Pacific Island States, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Mongolia etc.