Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has claimed the Indian pharmaceutical industry will be able to produce COVID-19 vaccines not just for the country but also for the entire world.
A lot of "very important things have been done" in India and its pharma industry is doing work "to help make the coronavirus vaccine building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases", said the Co-Chair and Trustee of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The statement made for a Discovery Plus documentary ‘COVID-19: India's War Against The Virus’. In the documentary, Gates also said that India faces a huge challenge due to the health crisis due to its gigantic size and urban centres with a lot of population density. The documentary was shot after the coronavirus breached Indian boundaries.
Commenting on the strength of India's pharma industry, he said, "India has a lot of capacity there -- with the drug and vaccine companies that are huge suppliers to the entire world. You know, more vaccines are made in India than anywhere-- starting with Serum Institute, that's the largest."
He further said, "But (there are) also Bio E, Bharat (Biotech), many others. They are doing work to help make the coronavirus vaccine, building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases."
Stating that India joined Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is a group working on a global basis to build vaccines platforms, Gates said, "I am excited that the pharmaceutical industry there will be able to produce not just for India but also for the entire world. (This is) What we need to reduce the deaths and make sure we are immune, which is how we end the epidemic."
Gates said Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also a "partner with the government, particularly with the department of biotechnology, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the office of the principal scientific advisor provide advice and help about getting these tools going".
In the documentary, the philanthropist emphasized on the Gates foundation's role. He claimed that it has "worked for the Indian government on health issues like introducing new vaccines over the last decade; and so when COVID-19 came along, we stepped in and said you know where are the gaps, we have been funding work on detection and isolation."
“We have been particularly active in UP and Bihar where we have done health delivery in the past," he further added.
Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research commented on India’s potential as the "pharmacy of the world". He claimed that around 60% of drugs utilised in US are of Indian origin.
"Any vaccine candidate which is being produced or developed in any part of the world will ultimately have to be scaled up by India or by China. Because these two countries are major producers of vaccines in the world and India supplies 60 per cent of vaccines to the world that all developed nations are aware of it. And therefore, they are in communication with India for the vaccine distribution ultimately, if it is developed to the whole world," Bhargava said.
With Inputs from Agencies