Bhutan on Wednesday became the first country to receive "Made in India" COVID vaccines with an Indian Air Force's AN-32 landing in the country with 150,000 doses. Present on the occasion were Bhutan's PM Dr Lotay Tshering, Health minister Dechen Wangmo, Foreign secretary Kinga Singye and India's Ambassador to the country Ruchira Kamboj

The country received the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India--COVISHIELD within 5 days of India launching its massive vaccination drive. After receiving the vaccine, Bhutan's Prime Minister said it was a gift from a "trusted friend" who has been with Bhutan all through the decades and in this pandemic too.

PM Lotay said, "As we celebrate the arrival of the vaccine as the new milestone in our battle to beat the pandemic at home, we applaud the gesture that signifies the compassion and generosity of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, and the people of India for the wellbeing of the humanity".

The Indian government has assured to cover the two doses requirement of Bhutan's target population of around 533,500 and has committed to deliver the remaining consignments soon.

The Bhutanese PM pointed out that India reached out despite challenges it faces, pointing out, "It is of unimaginable value when precious commodities are shared even before meeting your own needs, as opposed to giving out only after you have enough"

Adding, "It is the display of altruism at best, and an exhibit of India's sincerity in the relationship we cherish. These will all translate into the prayers and prosperity of the people of India, emanating from the grateful hearts of Bhutan".

Amid the pandemic, India handed over ten consignments of medical supplies, portable X-Ray machine, essential medicines and medical equipment to Bhutan. In fact, prior to the vaccine delivery, India organised a training program for immunization managers, cold chain officers, communication officers and data managers from Bhutan, both at national and provincial levels.

India will be gifting COVID vaccines to 6 countries--Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles. While Bhutan and Maldives got it on Wednesday, the first day of exports, Nepal and Bangladesh will receive it on Thursday. India is gifting Nepal 1 million doses of vaccine, while Bangladesh gets 2 million.