Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday hopped across the country to review the vaccine development and manufacturing process at three of India's leading vaccine-making firms whose shots against Covid-19 are currently undergoing various stages of clinical evaluations.
Modi asked scientists working at these units to share their views on how to improve the regulatory processes. He also said India would supply Covid-19 vaccine to its neighbours, following a tradition of 'global good'.
"India considers vaccines as not only vital to good health but also as a global good. It is India's duty to assist other countries, including the nations in our neighbourhood, in the collective fight against the virus," he said in a statement.
The prime minister visited Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune where top officials apprised him of the status of the clinical trial and manufacturing process.
Last month, Bharat Biotech began the phase-3 trial of its homemade vaccine that will be tried on 26,000 volunteers. The SII, on the other hand, is carrying out a fast-track bridging study on 1,600 volunteers as the efficacy of its vaccine — same as the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot — has been demonstrated in trials abroad.
Zydus Cadila's vaccine candidate, developed at its Vaccine Technology Centre, is completing the second phase of the trial. Despite repeated attempts, Cadila officials refused to elaborate on the status.
Modi arrived at the Ahmedabad airport at 9 am and boarded a helicopter to reach Changodar industrial area on the outskirts of the city where Zydus Biotech Park is located. His visit lasted nearly an hour, during which he interacted with the scientists and chairman and managing director of the drug-maker.
The Bharat Biotech facility at the Genome Valley in Hyderabad was his next stop where he was briefed about the ongoing clinical trial at 25 medical centres across the country. The vaccine is being manufactured at the company's BSL-3 high containment facility on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
The last stop was the SII vaccine complex at Hadapsar in Pune where the top brass of the world's largest vaccine manufacturer briefed the prime minister in detail about the vaccine development process and the target rollout dates.