To keep up momentum, PM meets vaccine makers

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 23, 2021

PM Narendra Modi   -  PTI

Companies credit his leadership for crossing 100-cr-plus jabs milestone

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met the top brass of seven Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers for charting out the journey forward from the milestone of 100 crore vaccinations. Manufacturers said that PM’s leadership was a key factor in India being able to administer 100 crore doses of the jabs in just about nine months.

Besides Serum Institute of India, the meeting was attended by representatives from six other vaccine makers — Bharat Biotech, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Zydus Cadila, Biological E, Gennova Biopharma and Panacea Biotech. The meeting was also attended by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and his deputy Pravin Pawar. Latest government data show that the cumulative Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country exceeded 101.30 crore.

The driving force

After the meeting, Cyrus S. Poonawalla, Chairman and Managing Director of Serum Institute of India, manufacturer of Covishield, said: “Had it not been for him (Modi) and (he) driving the health ministry, today India would not have been able to make a billion doses. There is no doubt in my mind about that.”

He said the PM was happy that the assurance given by the Serum Institute that it will make India self-sufficient in vaccines at the lowest possible price in the world was fulfilled. “The PM went out of the way and made regulatory people move very fast and they also cooperated,” he added.

Poonawalla’s son and Chief Executive officer of Serum Institute of India, Adar C. Poonawalla, said: “All over the world now, countries are going to invest in vaccine production and India needs to stay ahead. We discussed how to do that together with industry and government.”

A new chapter

Pankaj Patel of Zydus said that Modi was the ‘biggest factor’ in the development of the DNA-based Covid vaccine. “PM has encouraged us since the very beginning saying you do and the Indian government is standing with you. Wherever you have any problem, we will support you and that is why we were able to develop the vaccine. We are hopeful that the new chapter of innovation will expand much faster and India will emerge as the most innovative country,” he said.

More than 75 per cent of India’s adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine, with nine States and Union Territories administering the first dose to all eligible people. Over 31 per cent of the country’s around 93 crore adults have been administered both doses, according to health ministry officials. So far, all adult population in nine States and union territories -- Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Dadra and Nagar Haveli -- have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.

Three vaccines -- Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Sputnik V -- are currently being used in the country’s Covid vaccination drive.

During the meeting, Modi discussed various issues including furthering the vaccine research, sources said.

Published on October 23, 2021

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