Prepare for future: PM Modi to Covid-19 vaccine makers

Prepare for future: PM Modi to Covid-19 vaccine makers

Govt flags low 2nd dose uptake, asks states to share plans to boost coverage

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Centre on Saturday asked states and Union Territories to share their plans on boosting the second-dose coverage as less than one-third of the 100-crore vaccinated beneficiaries have got the second shot so far, a blemish that could cripple the country’s ongoing fight against the pandemic.

The directive came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the country’s top vaccine makers to strategise on furthering research to tackle any future pandemics.

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The interaction with Modi was attended by Cyrus Poonawalla and Adar Poonawalla from Serum Institute of India, Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella from Bharat Biotech International, Pankaj Patel and Shervil Patel from Zydus Cadila, Mahima Datla and Narender Mantela from Biological E. Ltd, Sanjay Singh and Satish Ramanlal Mehta from Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, Satish Reddy and Deepak Sapra from Dr Reddy’s Lab and Rajesh Jain and Harshit Jain from Panacea Biotec.

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Hailing the role of domestic vaccine manufacturers after India crossed the milestone of 100 crore vaccinations, Modi said the country needs to institutionalise the best practices learnt during the last one and a half years.

“This is an opportunity to modify our practices in tune with the global standards. Vaccine manufacturers should continuously work together to be ready to face future challenges,” Modi said.

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Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer of Pune-based Serum Institute of India, said they discussed “how to take the industry forward to prepare for future pandemics and to continue enhancing the capacity” among other things.

“All over the world now, countries are going to invest in vaccine production and India needs to stay ahead. We discussed how to do that together with industry and government,” Poonawallah said. In the meeting, domestic vaccine manufacturers applauded the regulatory reforms, simplified procedures, timely approvals and forthcoming and supportive nature of the government throughout this endeavour.

Centre reviews progress

In a review meeting on Saturday, the Union Health Ministry took stock of the progress of Covid-19 vaccination in states and UTs. The ministry asked them to generate a district-wise list of beneficiaries for the administration of the second dose and advised them to draw a plan involving district magistrates for reaching out to beneficiaries.

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According to the data released by the Health Ministry, so far 71.24 cr first doses covering 76% of the eligible population and 30.06 cr second doses covering 32.0% of the eligible population have been administered.

In a meeting with Health Secretaries and Mission Directors of National Health Mission (NHM) of states and UTs, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan flagged the sizable number of eligible beneficiaries who have not received their second dose.

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States/UTs were also urged to improve the momentum of vaccination and accelerate the coverage as the country moves to vaccinate all the eligible population by end of the year.

They were also advised to identify and prioritise districts having low coverage for focused action and explore requirements for mobilisation efforts, addressing local challenges, need for additional vaccination centres and improving access in rural areas. They were also requested to share their strategies to enhance the second-dose coverage.

'Shop online, avoid travel'

With Diwali around the corner, the Union government on Saturday issued an advisory, urging people to shop online and avoid unnecessary travel to keep infection rates under control. It advised against mass gatherings in containment zones and districts with over 5% positivity rate.

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