PM Modi meets Indian Covid vaccine manufacturers; CEOs say his leadership key force in vaccination drive
'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,' he said.
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met Indian COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers who said his leadership was a key factor in India being able to administer 100 crore doses of the jabs in just about nine months.
During the meeting, Modi discussed various issues including furthering the vaccine research, sources said.
Representatives from seven vaccine makers -- Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Zydus Cadila, Biological E, Gennova Biopharma and Panacea Biotech -- participated in the meeting.
Following the meeting, Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute of India credited Modi's vision for the milestone and said they in the meeting discussed how to take the industry forward and prepare for future pandemics, to continue enhancing the capacity.
"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," he said.
His father Cyrus Poonawalla 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." The prime minister 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. Pankaj Patel of Zydus, another vaccine maker, said Modi was the "biggest factor" in the development of the DNA-based COVID vaccine. He praises the prime minister for his encouragement and support and also for mentioning the DNA vaccine at his address at the United Nations.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar were also present in the meeting. The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country have exceeded 101.30 crore, according to the latest health ministry data.
On October 21, India achieved a major milestone in its vaccination programme against COVID-19 as the cumulative vaccine doses administered in the country surpassed the 100-crore mark, resulting in celebratory events across various parts.
More than 75 per cent of India's adult population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 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.