Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) on Saturday, where he will review the Covid-19 vaccine production and distribution programme.
The much-awaited vaccine, Covishield has been developed at the SII Pune laboratory with a master seed from Oxford University/AstraZeneca – and clinical trials are underway.
Pune's Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said that they have received official confirmation about the Prime Minister’s visit to Pune on 28 November.
Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said that the Prime Minister would visit the Serum Institute between 1 - 2 pm.
However, there was no independent confirmation either from the Prime Minister’s Office or the Serum Institute.
Modi will be visiting the Hadapsar campus of SII, where he will be received by Cyrus Poonawalla, the Chairman of Poonawalla Group, popularly known as ‘Vaccine King of India’, and his son and CEO Adar Poonawalla, who is spearheading the Covishield production.
The Pune District Collector’s office, Pune Municipal Corporation and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation are making the necessary arrangements.
The Pune district is among the worst Covid-19 affected districts of the country.
In the Covid-19 situation review video-conference with Chief Ministers, the focus was largely on the vaccination programme.
Meanwhile, the visit of 100-odd foreign envoys have been rescheduled to be held for 4 November. They will visit two facilities – SII at Hadapsar, and Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd in Hinjewadi.
For Modi, this would be the second visit to the SII facility in Pune - the last being on 13 November, 2016, when he met the Poonawallas and took stock of the low-cost vaccination programme that India follows. In fact, Adar is also a brand ambassador of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the flagship cleanliness mission initiated by Modi.
The SII, India’s No 1 biotechnology company, makes more than 1.5 billion doses - which includes Polio vaccine as well as Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines. Vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute are accredited by the WHO and are being used in around 170 countries across the globe in their national immunisation programs, saving millions of lives throughout the world.
Set up in Pune with an aim to provide vaccines at affordable prices, several life-saving biologicals were manufactured at prices with the result that the country was made self-sufficient for Tetanus Anti-toxin and Anti-snake Venom serum, followed by DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) group of vaccines and then later on MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) group of vaccines.
Sixty-five per cent of the kids across the globe receive one or the other vaccine manufactured by SII.