Bengaluru: In a gesture of goodwill, India dispatched the first consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine to Thimphu in Bhutan from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai, in the wee hours on Wednesday.

The flight carrying the first consignment of Covidshield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), will reach Thimphu today.

In line with India-Bhutan unique and special relations, India ensured a continuous supply of trade and essential items to Bhutan, despite COVID-19 restrictions.

India has so far provided essential medicines and medical supplies, including paracetamol, hydroxychloroquine, PPEs, N95 masks, X-ray machines, and test kits, worth over Rs 2.8 crore to Bhutan. It has also entered into an "Air Travel Arrangement" or "Transport Bubble" agreement with Bhutan.

Announcing the move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead.”

India will begin dispatching COVID-19 vaccines being manufactured in the country to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Seychelles from Wednesday. It is currently awaiting confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances for the supply of medicines to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Mauritius.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a release on Tuesday that the government has received several requests for the supply of Indian manufactured vaccines from neighbouring and key partner countries.

India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country.

While Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield is being produced by the Serum Institute, and the Covaxin is being manufactured by Bharat Biotech.