Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that India is ready to save humanity with two “made in India” coronavirus vaccines. He made the remark while inaugurating the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention.
“In the times of the coronavirus crisis, India is among the countries with the lowest death rate and the highest recovery rate in the world,” the prime minister said. “Today, we are ready to save the humanity with not one but two ‘made in India’ vaccines.”
Modi added that the world was observing India’s efforts to roll out the vaccine. “The world is not only waiting for Indian vaccines but is also watching how India runs the world’s biggest vaccination programme,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
The prime minister spoke about how India used to import medical equipment from other countries but had now become self-reliant. He added that India has continued to supply medicines to the countries in need.
The prime minister said that India had displayed immense strength amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Such a huge country stood up to the challenge unitedly,” he said. “Such an example has not been seen in the world.”
Modi thanked members of the diaspora for their contribution to India’s fight against the pandemic. “Wherever you may be, you have made a big contribution,” the prime minister said. “You donations to the PM-CARES fund are helping strengthen India’s health services.”
India is likely to start rolling out coronavirus vaccines soon. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had on Friday said that all Indians will be provided the vaccine “in the next few days”, after prioritising risk groups.
On January 3, India had approved vaccines developed by the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech for emergency use. The Serum Institute is the local maker of Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca. Bharat Biotech has manufactured India’s first indigenous vaccine candidate Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.
Serum Institute Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla had said earlier this week that the company had been allowed to export its vaccine.
Several south Asian countries have already shown interest in procuring doses of Covishield. In November, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bangladesh’s Beximco Pharmaceuticals, its health ministry and Serum Institute, under which the latter would provide three crore doses to the neighbouring country.
Global vaccine alliance Gavi has also collaborated with Serum Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to deliver up to an additional 100 million [10 crore] doses of vaccines, once proved effective, to low- and middle-income countries.