Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Serum Institute of India in Maharashtra’s Pune city on Saturday evening to review the firm’s efforts to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus. Pune was Modi’s last stop in the three-city tour.
Modi made a stop at the firm’s vaccine manufacturing unit. “Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India,” he said in a tweet. “They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility.”
The Serum Institute has tied up with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University to produce a vaccine in India. The vaccine is seen as offering one of the best hopes for many developing countries because of its cheaper price and ability to be transported and stored at normal temperatures.
The prime minister embarked on the three-city visit on Saturday to assess the work being done to roll out the vaccine. Before Pune, he visited drug manufacturer Bharat Biotech’s facility in Hyderabad and Zydus Cadila in Ahmedabad.
Bharat Biotech is conducting its third phase trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate Covaxin at Genome Valley, around 50 km from Hyderabad.
Another Indian firm, Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical Hetero Labs, had on Friday announced partnership with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to produce over 100 million [10 crore] doses of the Sputnik V vaccine annually from 2021.
Encouraging results from vaccine trials globally have raised hopes that the global pandemic can be contained by next year. Two vaccines, one by Pfizer/BioNTech and another by Moderna, were recently shown to be more than 90% effective in early analyses.
Pfizer, which has completed its trial, submitted an application on November 20 for emergency authorisation of the vaccine. Another vaccine candidate developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca on Monday showed an average efficiency of 70% among Covid-19 patients.
India has not signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine yet so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country. Availability of the vaccine in India will be subject to approval by domestic regulators, and the Indian government agreeing to purchase them. So far, many other nations including the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia and Israel have made deals to buy millions of doses of the vaccine.
India recorded 41,322 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the country’s total to 93,51,109. The toll rose to 1,36,200 with 485 more deaths, while the number of active cases stood at 4,54,940. So far, 87,59,969 people have recovered from the disease in the country.