Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates said on Wednesday that India’s pharmaceutical industry has the capacity to produce coronavirus vaccines not just for the country but for the whole world, PTI reported. However, Gates also said that India faces a huge challenge in combating the coronavirus due to its gigantic size, and urban areas with high population density.
Gates said a “lot of very important things have been done” in India and its pharmaceuticals industry is working “to help make the coronavirus vaccine, building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases”. He was speaking in a documentary – Covid-19: India’s War Against The Virus – which will premiere on Discovery Plus channel on Thursday evening.
“India has a lot of capacity there – with the drug and vaccine companies that are huge suppliers to the entire world,” Gates said about India’s pharma industry. “You know, more vaccines are made in India than anywhere [else] – starting with Serum Institute, that’s the largest. But also Bio E, Bharat [Biotech], many others.”
Gates said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been partnering with the Indian government, particularly with the Department of Biotechnology, the Indian Council of Medical Research, and the office of the principal scientific advisor, providing advice and help. “I am excited that the pharmaceutical industry there will be able to produce not just for India but also for the entire world,” Gates said. “This is what we need to reduce the deaths and make sure we are immune, which is how we end the epidemic.”
Gates said his foundation has been very active in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and has been funding work on the detection of Covid-19 and isolation of patients. He said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “worked for the Indian government on health issues like introducing new vaccines over the last decade”.
The Indian Council of Medical Research had earlier this month directed clinical trial sites of Covaxin, a coronavirus vaccine, to get it ready for human use by August 15. However, the unrealistic deadline was criticised in various quarters, including by doctors working in the trials.
In April, the Serum Institute of India said it plans to produce up to six crore doses of a coronavirus vaccine this year. The potential vaccine is under trial at the University of Oxford in Britain, with whom Serum is working.
Gujarat-based pharmaceutical giant Zydus Cadila on Wednesday said its coronavirus vaccine candidate, ZyCoV-D, has entered the human trials stage. The clinical trials will be conducted across multiple sites in India with over 1,000 subjects.
India on Thursday reported over 32,000 coronavirus cases and 606 deaths. The country’s overall count rose to 9.66 lakh and the toll reached 24,915. As many as 6.12 lakh people have recovered so far.