Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Barbuda Gaston Browne has appreciated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assistance in providing doses of Covid vaccines to Caribbean nations which are far away in the Western Hemisphere and thanked India for its benevolence, kindness and empathy. 

India delivered a total of 1.75 lakh doses of the Oxford-Astrazeneca Covid vaccine on Monday. 

Antigua and Barbuda 

Out of the total, 40,000 doses of the Made in India Covid vaccine were donated to the Antigua and Barbuda government to meet the immediate requirements of vaccinating medical workers, frontline workers and those with co-morbidities.

"Today we received 1.75 lakh AstraZeneca vaccines from the government of India for the benefit of the several Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda. Of the 1.75 lakh vaccines, 40,000 donated to the people of Antigua and Barbuda and for this, we are extremely grateful. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have demonstrated perhaps the most significant of benevolence, kindness and certainly of empathy that we would have seen in the recent times compared to any act of any other leader globally," Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said during the arrival of the vaccine. 

At least 5,000 doses will be donated to Grenada. The country will also receive 20,000 vaccines in a few weeks from India.

"On behalf of the people of Caribbean countries, I wish to take this opportunity to personally thank PM Modi and GoI for this act of benevolence," he said. 

"The Bible has taught us to share and in fact, the Good Book indicated that we should love our neighbour as we love ourselves and it is evident that India is practising this principle of helping its neighbours. In fact, we are not quite a neighbour in that sense. We are located in the Western Hemisphere while India is in the northern hemisphere. But India understands the common humanity of all; the fact that we all share is a common platform and that we fight against the covid requires global solidarity recognising that the virus could skip borders and enter the border of other countries." 

"I have to admit that this is easily one of the most notable acts of benevolence that we have seen in the last 100 years," the prime minister said. 

India for Caribbeans 

"India has been very responsive to the needs of the Antigua and Barbuda. India provided $100 million last year to assist us in our response to covid. Prior to that. It donated $1 million to assist in the recovery of Barbuda. We continue to strengthen our bilateral relations with India," Browne said.

Across the Caribbean, India has been making a contribution to the development of the local people. 

"In fact, 2 years ago, India had donated $14 million to various Caribbean countries to assist us in climate change. Though India is an advanced developing country, it continues to look out for other developing countries globally. We are eternally grateful," he added.

On the occasion, Indian High Commissioner KJ Srinivasan said, "The arrival of 1,75,000 vaccine doses has come as a donation to Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Suriname. The vaccines arrived on a charter flight from Mumbai, India. The remaining countries are expected to receive their share of vaccines in the coming 24 hours."

The made in India vaccine Covishield is being manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, in collaboration with Oxford-AstraZeneca. 

India has announced a total donation of 5.7 lakh doses to the CARICOM region. Out of which 125,000 doses for OECS countries, Antigua and Barbuda (40,000), St Kitts & Nevis (20,000), Saint Lucia (25,000), St. Vincent & the Grenadines (40,000). 

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India supplied medicines to 150 countries during the pandemic, more than half on a non-commercial basis, to deal with medical complications arising from the pandemic.

St Kitts and Nevis

Under India's vaccine diplomacy, St Kitts and Nevis received a consignment of 20,000 doses of Covid vaccines through OECS. 

PM Harris said, "This generous donation of 20,000 doses of vaccines courtesy of the Indian Government provides real hope for our people that working together we can defeat Covid-19."

"I commend India for the leadership they are showing and for the global role they are playing in helping to rid the world of this virus. I strongly urge other nations to follow suit," he added.

St Vincent and the Grenadines 

St Vincent and the Grenadines also received 40,000 Made in India vaccines. The vaccines were received by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. 

St Lucia 

St Lucia has received its share of 25,000 doses of the vaccine. Prime Minister Allen Chastanet himself reached the airport to witness the arrival of the vaccines.

Earlier, the Commonwealth of Dominica and Barbados had received around 1.7 lakh Covishield vaccines from India.