The Economic Times has reported that China is allegedly pushing the Sri Lankan Government to approve Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese state-owned Sinopharm. The report said this new development comes following India’s gift of 500,000 doses of the locally manufactured Covishield jab to Sri Lanka.
It went on to say while China has decided to gift 300,000 doses of the vaccines to Sri Lanka, one of its key partners in the Belt and Road Initiative in the Indian Ocean Region, the Chinese Embassy in Colombo has pushed the Sri Lankan Government to approve Sinopharm vaccines by citing their efficacy and approval by some other countries.
They said China was put on the back foot by India’s “vaccine diplomacy” or the decision to gift doses of made-in-India coronavirus vaccines to friendly nations, the Economic Times reported. A Chinese statement even named a few leaders who have taken a shot of Chinese vaccines to point to their efficacy.
China’s move came shortly after India announced gifting of Covishield vaccines to Sri Lanka, a Colombo-based person said on condition of anonymity. Covishield, the local name for the Oxford University-Astrazeneca vaccine being manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, has been approved for emergency use by Sri Lanka.
According to the report, a number of countries in the subcontinent including Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, where China has substantial investments has caught China by surprise by opting for made-in-India vaccines. So far, India has sent consignments of coronavirus vaccines under grant assistance to Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Seychelles, Myanmar and Mauritius.