With encouraging news coming from all around the globe about the development of vaccines to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, PM Narendra Modi has got himself into the thick of things. On Saturday, the PM embarked upon a whirlwind three-city visit to review coronavirus vaccine development work undertaken by several Pharma giants across the country.
The first pit stop for PM Modi was the Zydus Cadila’s manufacturing facility, some 20 kilometers from Ahmedabad. After his arrival at Ahmedabad airport from Delhi around 9 am, PM Modi went to the Zydus Cadila plant to review the development of COVID-19 vaccine candidate ZyCOV-D and held discussions with the promoters and executives of the company. Modi spent over an hour at the plant, before leaving for the airport, from where he flew to Hyderabad to visit the Bharat Biotech facility.
Currently, Bharat Biotech`s Covaxin is undergoing phase-3 trials. Biotech has partnered with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for a country-made COVID-19 vaccine using the virus strain isolated by ICMR`s National Institute of Virology (NIV) based in Pune.
On his second stop during the review of COVID Vaccine development programs at 3 premier facilities in India, PM Shri Narendra Modi visits Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad where scientists are working on a COVID-19 vaccine, COVAXIN. #NamoCares pic.twitter.com/p2AZpX8Jnf
— Sanatani Thakur (@SanggitaT) November 28, 2020
After wrapping up his business in Hyderabad, the PM is expected to reach the most important of the three cities, Pune, where Serum Institute of India (SII) has partnered up with global pharma giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University for the vaccine.
Modi’s hour-long visit to SII is aimed at reviewing the status of the vaccine candidate for coronavirus infection and to know about its launch, production and distribution mechanism, he said, “As India enters a decisive phase of the fight against COVID-19, PM Narendra Modi`s visit to these facilities and discussions with the scientists will help him get a first-hand perspective of the preparations, challenges, and roadmap in India`s endeavour to vaccinate its citizens,” the Prime Minister`s Office had said on Friday.
Scientists and policymakers around the world are praying for the success of the Oxford vaccine. The most important reason being the low cost and no storage issue of it. The Oxford vaccine, at $2.50 per dose, is very cheap compared to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which cost $20 per dose and upward $25 per dose respectively. Moreover, the Oxford vaccine could be stored at a fridge temperature while Oxford and Modern vaccines need to be stored at minus 20 to 80 degrees.
And that’s not all, India’s all-weather ally Russia and one of the developers of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on Friday announced that India-based drug maker Hetero will produce over 100 million doses of the jab.
Earlier this year, Moscow had claimed that the interim results from the Sputnik V clinical trials showed the vaccine was 95 percent effective, similar to other international vaccine makers. Like the Oxford vaccine, the Sputnik V vaccine can also be stored at the fridge temperature. Sputnik V vaccine is expected to be priced at $10 per dose in international markets, costing less than Moderna or Pfizer.
PM Modi is aiming at the Oxford vaccine to help the entire globe battle the virus. SII in Pune is the largest manufacturer of vaccines across the planet and when the COVID-19 vaccine would be fully developed at the institute–the mass production and distribution of vaccines, especially in India and around South Asia would not be a major issue.
Moderna and Pfizer could cater to the Western world but the Indian government is aiming to help the entire Indian subcontinent, South-East Asia, and the continent of Africa through the Astra vaccine. The German and the American vaccines would not be able to cater to the poor infrastructure in these regions. With billions of doses required, it would be near to impossible to create ultra-frosty refrigeration systems. Moreover, the price would be an issue and thus the Oxford vaccine seems to be the best bet.
With Sputnik-V too partnering up with an Indian company for manufacturing of the vaccine, the Union government has ensured that India and its population will be safely vaccinated. And just the way, India had not hesitated to supply the HCQ tablets to the globe when it needed them without any second thoughts, countries can be assured that New Delhi will send them the vaccine.