The Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech International Limited has offered its vaccine for trial in Pakistan, sources have informed The Correspondent. Pakistan is currently assessing the technical and political aspects of the offer.
The timing of this offer is surprising to authorities, considering the tense circumstances surrounding India-Pakistan relations. Repeated ceasefire violations by Indian army troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in the past two days—killing at least 2 Pakistani soldiers and injuring multiple civilians—and the recent revelation of the Indian Chronicles, an anti-Pakistan disinformation network, by EU DisInfoLab has the two countries in a diplomatic gridlock.
Bharat Biotech, an company headquartered in Hyderabad, India, sent s request through diplomatic channels, offering its vaccine COVAXIN for clinical trial to Pakistan. The company has asked for 20,000 volunteers for the third phase of trial.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is assisting Biotech in the development of this vaccine. The company intends to launch the vaccine before India’s Independence Day on August 15.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Health received this offer through diplomatic channels.
“We have to see technical aspect of the vaccine,” said a source in the Ministry of Health. “The decision could not be taken without consulting all the stakeholders.”
Authorities privy to the matter said Bharat Biotech has offered its vaccine at the third stage, which is a matter of suspicion. If the Indian company was interested in keep Pakistani in the trial phase, this offer should have come in the second phase, the source added.
Additionally, this offer comes when Pakistan has recently exposed the Indian role in terrorism in Pakistan, and presented a dossier of findings to the UN regarding Indian funding to terrorist organizations. Meanwhile, a European organization has exposed the 15-year long Indian operation running anti-Pakistan campaigns through fake non-governmental organizations and media outlets.
According to sources, India has been desperately looking for an opportunity to divert world attention from the current situation. The sources state that the Modi government has planned to use the COVID-19 vaccine as a tool of diplomacy and so-called goodwill gesture to Pakistan and other SAARC countries. Sources say this is an attempt to divert global attention away from issues including human right atrocities in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), rising extremism against minorities, and illegal suppression of the farmers protest ongoing all over India.
So far, more than 9.7 million cases of COVID-19 and over 141,000 deaths due to the virus have been reported in India.
Meanwhile, trials of Chinese vaccine are undergoing the third phase in Pakistan. Pakistan has offers of vaccines from China and Russia, and the Pakistani goverment has approved funds worth US $150 million for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.