The world’s biggest inoculation drive against the coronavirus is set to begin in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, a day after the drugs regulator approved two vaccines — Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and Bharat Biotech’s indigenously developed Covaxin — for restricted emergency use.
Lauding the people behind this Made in India initiative, Modi said: “The country is proud of the contributions of its scientists and technicians.”
Addressing scientists at the National Metrology Conclave, Modi said it must be ensured that Made in India products not only have global demand but also global acceptance. “Quality is as much important as quantity; our standards should rise with our scale in our quest for Aatmanirbhar Bharat,” he said.
Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan also lauded the scientists and said their Herculean efforts had finally paid off with two coronavirus vaccines being developed at a record-breaking speed and granted authorisation. Vardhan, who also holds the charge of Union health ministry, said new diagnostic tests can detect the virus within minutes.
Vardhan was speaking at the 75th foundation day event at the National Physical Laboratory, one of the country’s oldest laboratories under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
In an interview, Niti Aayog member V K Paul, meanwhile, said that India has enough stockpile of the Covid-19 vaccine for inoculation of priority groups, including healthcare workers and frontline workers, in the first phase.
Paul, who is also the chairman of the National Expert Group On Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), added that the government will soon announce its plans for purchase and distribution of the vaccine.
Paul noted that “three to four months from now, there will be other vaccines and the stockpile will be even bigger. And more acceleration can be brought about in the vaccination programme.”
Asked when the government will announce its plans for purchase and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine, he said, “This will follow. Now the essential has taken place, all these steps will be taken.”