A medical NEW DELHI—When an Indian Navy aircraft landed in the archipelago nation of Seychelles last month, the country’s foreign minister and other senior officials lined up on the tarmac to welcome its precious cargo: 50,000 doses of Indian-made AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Two weeks earlier, the Indian Ocean island nation—total population, 98,000—received a separate shipment of 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine manufactured in China, which is seeking to make strategic inroads in a region long seen by India as part of its sphere of influence.

Covid-19 vaccines are becoming an important form of diplomatic currency around the world, as nations jockey for soft-power gains. China and Russia are touting their own vaccines, as are Western drug companies.

Now India, a pharmaceutical giant that manufactured some 60% of global vaccines before the pandemic, is joining the fray, seeking to strengthen ties and expand its influence in its neighborhood and beyond.

Big ShotsIndia has emerged as a leader in vaccine diplomacyNumber of doses supplied by IndiaSource: Ministry of External Affairs
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Beijing has for years sought to derail Indian efforts to establish a military outpost in Seychelles that would allow New Delhi to keep tabs on Chinese naval and civilian vessels in the area. India has worked to blunt Chinese intrusions and helped build a network of coastal radar stations.

The end result of the dueling vaccine diplomacy here has been an unusual abundance of doses: the Seychelles now ranks third in the world in terms of the proportion of its population that has been inoculated, behind Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

This achievement could enable the island nation to reopen its tourism industry, the mainstay of the economy, as soon as next month, Foreign Minister Sylvestre Radegonde said. “It’s a tremendous benefit,” he said. “We appreciate that in our hour of need India, like China, is always present.”

Michuzi Blog

Tanzanian blog operating since 2005, covering International news and Local News, including Politics, Fashion, Social Scenes, Interviews, Movies, Events, personalities and anything positive happening worldwide. Written in Swahili and English targeting both Swahili and English readers.

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