Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a video conference with billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to discuss the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and the importance of coordination between affected nations in scientific innovation and research.

During the virtual meeting, the prime minister told Gates that India’s approach to fighting the pandemic was people-centric. “The prime minister underlined the conscious approach that India has adopted in its fight against the health crisis – an approach based on ensuring public engagement through appropriate messaging,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“He explained how this people-centric bottom-up approach has helped win acceptability for physical distancing, respect for front-line workers, wearing of masks, maintaining proper hygiene, and respecting lockdown provisions,” the statement added.

Modi told Gates that his government’s efforts in expanding financial inclusion, strengthening last mile delivery of health services, popularising cleanliness and hygiene through the Swachh Bharat Mission had strengthened India’s fight against the escalating health crisis.

On Tuesday, Modi had announced a Rs 20 lakh crore-stimulus package to counter the economic fallout of the pandemic. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had shared the details of the package in two press briefings.

The PMO said that Modi and Gates agreed that India’s strong Covid-19 response made it necessary for the country to be included in the larger global discussion. “They agreed that given India’s willingness and capacity to contribute to global efforts, particularly for benefit of fellow developing countries, it was important for India to be included in the ongoing global discussions for coordinating responses to the pandemic,” Modi’s office said.

Gates told Modi that India had an important role to play in countering the pandemic and paving the way for a vaccine, according to ANI.

Last month, Gates had written to Modi and praised his leadership in dealing with the pandemic. The billionaire is now funding the production of the seven most promising ideas for a vaccine for the highly infectious disease.

The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 81,970 on Friday morning and toll stood at 2,649. Globally, Covid-19 has infected more than 44.40 lakh people and claimed 3.02 lakh lives, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

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