India set for biggest vaccination drive: PM Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers the inaugural address at the National Metrology Conclave, through video conference, in New Delhi. -Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that the world’s biggest inoculation drive against coronavirus is set to begin in the country, a day after the drugs regulator approved two vaccines for restricted emergency use.

Lauding the scientists and technicians for the ‘Made in India’ vaccines, he said the country is proud of them. “World’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination programme set to begin in India. For this, the country is proud of the contributions of its scientists and technicians,” Modi said.

India’s drugs regulator on Sunday approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.

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.

The prime minister said in any progressive society, research is key and effective and its effects are commercial and social. They also help widen approach and thinking.

“Past teaches us that more a country concentrates on science, the more its technology gets strengthened. This technology in turn helps new industries and promotes research. This cycle takes the country ahead,” he said.

“We do not want to fill the world with Indian products, but we must win the hearts of every customer of Indian products in every corner of the world,” he said.

Quality of services in our country and products, both public or private sector, will determine India’s strength in the world, he stressed.

Bharat Biotech dispatches 1st batch of Covaxin

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has sent the first batch of its Covid vaccine, Covaxin, to the government for further distribution in the immunisation drive the country is set to start in coming days, its CMD Dr Krishna Ella said on Monday.

“We have already sent the batch to the Central Research Institute in Kasauali,” he said at a press conference. However, he did not disclose the quantity of vials sent to the government. Ella also did not share information on the order specifying quantity of the doses it received from the government.

The Central Research Institute (CRI), under the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), is the nodal agency to tests the drugs and facilitate in the roll out to the northern part of the country. Ella also said that the firm has 20 million doses ready and is confident to manufacture 80 million more by July.

Meanwhile, the company is aiming to manufacture 700 million doses of Covaxin in future with four new facilities it is ramping up in south India. “We are preparing three facilities in Hyderabad and one in Bangalore,” he specified.