“We believe in vaccine cooperation, not competition,” says Indian envoy to Russia Venkatesh Varma


Highlighting India’s vaccine outreach to a number of countries, India’s Ambassador to Russia Bala Venkatesh Varma has said that New Delhi believes in ‘Vaccine cooperation’ and not ‘vaccine competition’ or nationalism.

Speaking to Russian media, he said, “We do not believe in vaccine competition, we do not believe in vaccine nationalism. We believe in vaccine cooperation and friendship and we intend to extend our hand of friendship to support the vaccination program of a number of countries who are in need of this.”

He explained, “We will work through the UN, WHO as we move forward and I am sure in the weeks ahead there will cooperation between India and Russia on the global vaccination program.”

Russia has its COVID vaccine Sputnik V, which will be produced in India. India is known as the pharmacy of the world and supplies 60% of the world’s vaccines.

“We wish to reach out to our dear friends and neighbours and we have done so. We have given vaccination doses, supplies have been sent by air  to several neighbouring countries,” Varma said, adding, “This is just the beginning.”

India has so far provided vaccines to over 10 countries, a majority have been gifted and include neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Myanmar.

Interestingly, the Indian envoy has been vaccinated using Russia’s Sputnik V.  Asked about it, he said, “‘I’m very happy to tell you that I already received my first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine last week. I feel very well, there are no side effects.”

Many of the Indian diplomats at the embassy have also been vaccinated using the same vaccine.

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