India’s Covid vaccine progress get thumbs-up from over 60 diplomats

Diplomats and company representatives from more than 60 countries have expressed confidence in India’s existing infrastructure to mass-produce COVID-19 vaccines for global supplies. The foreign heads of missions, which included Australian Ambassador to India Barry O’Farrell, visited the leading biotech firms in Hyderabad on December 9 to find out if the facilities were adequate to produce drugs on a large scale for global consumers. Their visit assumes significance amid a growing recognition to diversify the supply sources for health security. Also, some countries are cautious about China, one of the world’s largest producers of generic drugs, over concerns whether they can depend entirely on one country to meet their demands.

During their visit to Bharat Biotech International Limited, the company’s Chairman and Managing Director Dr Krishna Ella briefed them about the progress of vaccine development in the facility. He told them that 33 percent of global vaccines are produced in its Genome Valley. Hyderabad has the largest FDA approved vaccine facilities, and the industry would make sure PM Modi’s dream of making vaccines available to humanity comes true, Mr Ella added. The visitors also inspected the Bharat Biotech. Its Joint Managing Director Suchitra Ella informed them about the safety and efficacy of Covaxin which will be rolled out next year as per the government’s phased plan.

Besides Australia, diplomats from Denmark, Iran, Bhutan, Brazil, Myanmar, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, South Korea, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, among others, also visited the facilities. This is the first such visit of the foreign envoys in the country, and they will also tour other such plants in the country. Explaining the purpose of his visit to India, the CEO of the Luxembourg-based B Medical Systems L Provost said that his company would set up a cold chain facility for COVID-19 vaccines in India by March. He said that Luxembourg would transfer the required technology to set up a manufacturing plant in India. Meanwhile, his company is exploring sites in Gujarat as well. Deputy CEO of B Medical Systems J Doshi said: “We will start manufacturing in India by March 2021. Telangana and Maharashtra are in touch with us.”

India is one of the largest generic drug manufacturers in the world and has significantly contributed to the global efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.After the visit, Australian Ambassador to India Barry O’Farrell said: “Many vaccines are being produced in countries around the world but there’s only one country that has the manufacturing capacity to produce sufficient quantities to satisfy the demands of citizens in every country and that’s India.”

Denmark’s Ambassador to India F Svane said that he was “impressed to see how far you’ve come, how dedicated you’re to combat COVID, how focused you’re on helping humanity. It’s not just commercial or nation first interest; you’re connecting with the world and helping us.” In his reaction, Mahima Datla, MD, Biological E Ltd, Hyderabad said, “It’s a testament to PM’s vision who’s not only showcasing collaboration but is keen to ensure that it’s not just India that receives vaccine but Indian companies play a vital role in delivering vaccine to the world.” Bhutanese Ambassador to India said that vaccines from India will be the easiest to administer and transport. “Most countries will benefit from it. India is known to produce in bulk quantities, once approved it can be rolled out quickly,” the Times Now quoted him as saying.

On November 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited several drug firms in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Pune to inspect the progress of vaccine development. He also held virtual meetings with top officials of various other pharmaceutical companies to take stock of the progress.


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