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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - NEW DELHI — India is emerging as the savior in the battle against coronavirus as it officially began supplying locally-produced COVID-19 vaccines to its neighboring and key partner countries.
On Wednesday, a consignment containing 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines reached Male. With this, the Maldives, along with Bhutan, became the first recipient of the Indian government’s gift, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The other recipients of the vaccine are Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Seychelles. Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Mauritius will also get doses once they give the necessary regulatory approvals.
Known as the “pharmacy of the world”, India has the largest vaccine manufacturing capacity in the world, accounting for 60 percent of global production.
Hyderabad, titled as the "vaccine capital of the world", meets one-third of global vaccine demand.
The SII, located in Pune, produces more than 1.5 billion doses per annum.
Not only in terms of manufacturing capacity, but India has also progressed manifold in scientific research with foreign collaborations as well as research and development (R&D) at home.
The two vaccines already approved in India are Covishield, produced by the Serum Institute of India, in collaboration with Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and Covaxin, indigenously developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.
Like other developed countries across the globe, India too was no exception to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, India struggled to control the spread of the virus as it had too many logistic issues to take care of, including the insufficient supply of face masks, PPE kits, ventilators, testing kits, testing labs, inadequate medical facilities to name a few.
However, despite numerous domestic challenges, the government of India embarked on a well thought out strategy through the implementation of stringent measures such as countrywide lockdowns, banning of international as well as domestic means of public transport, enforcing social distancing rules, screening of people, testing, contact tracing, follow up measures to bring some semblance of control over the pandemic.
As a result of constant efforts at the national as well as local level, the pandemic seems to have lost its pace in India as compared to its peak phase. However, the risk of resurgence cannot be ruled out unless the majority of the population is immunized effectively.
India, from the very beginning, has been in the pursuit of anti-coronavirus vaccines. The development of any vaccine generally takes time. However, Indian scientists have made the impossible task a reality within a very short period of time (less than one year) to serve humanity with an effective solution (Covaxin) at par with other acclaimed vaccines developed by Pfizer (US), Moderna (USA), Oxford-AstraZeneca (UK), the Russian Sputnik V.
It is important to note that Indian made vaccines are comparatively cheaper and enjoy reputations when it comes to safety and efficacy, for which the credit goes to the domestic scientific culture and well-supported R&D infrastructure.
The World Health Organization has approved only five Chinese vaccines for export compared to 47 vaccines from India because of rigorous quality controls, a track record of successful mass immunization programs for hundreds of millions of people at home against other diseases which is also reassuring. — Agencies
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