Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Chief Executive Officer Mark Suzman has said that India will likely produce a large portion of coronavirus vaccine through its “strong and robust” private sector, PTI reported on Wednesday.

In an interview with the news agency, Suzman also said India was doing everything it can with the resources at hand to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think India is doing everything it can right now with the resources at hand, but we are all hopeful that next year as some of these vaccines should come out... and our expectation is that a very large portion of these are likely to be manufactured in India through the strong and robust Indian private sector partners and then that will be the key area to focus on in the next phase of the Covid pandemic.” 

— Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Chief Executive Officer Mark Suzman

The chief executive officer said the foundation believes that there is a need for the equitable global distribution of the coronavirus vaccines. He said that the foundation was working to ensure that developing countries have access to the vaccine “at the same time and at the same volumes” as wealthy countries. He added that the distribution within countries, however, would depend on their guidelines coupled with global recommendations.

Suzman also said that the foundation was working to fight the Covid-19 pandemic at multiple levels. “We work with this organisation, CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, which has been a leading partner in investing in the potential vaccines,” he told the news agency. “We have developed something called a therapeutic accelerator which has raised over $125 million (Rs 921 crore approximately) to help find treatments that are going to be effective against Covid.

Apart from the therapeutic accelerator, the chief executive officer said the foundation was also working on diagnostics, adding that it was a supporter of the Covax Facility, a global effort to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines.

“And last but not least, we have also been directly supporting some specific investments, again some with Indian partners like Serum Institute of India and GAVI around particular vaccines which are very promising in order to make sure many of the products are being manufactured in real time and even ahead of regulatory approval for potential distribution because we want to make sure that the distribution goes to developing countries at the same time as rich countries, that you don’t have the time lag with rich countries having bought up early available market, which have been the risk.” 

— Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Chief Executive Officer Mark Suzman

On the Grand Challenge platform and its relevance in the fight against Covid-19, Suzman said many scientists and doctors, who joined the platform, were working on different aspects of the infection. Grand Challenges India was formulated as a partnership between the foundation and India’s Department of Biotechnology in 2012. Wellcome, a United Kingdom-based research-charity organisation, also joined the partnership. The platform focuses on health and development matters ranging from maternal and child health, sanitation, agriculture, nutrition and infectious diseases.

He said that one of the major learnings from the pandemic is that we need a permanent infrastructure in place at all global, national and regional levels so that the world is prepared when the next comes.

The coronavirus has affected more than 4.07 crore people and killed 11,23,824 globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The worldwide recoveries have crossed 2.78 crore.