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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla in Pune
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla in Pune

PM Modi concludes 3-city visit to review Covid vaccine development

  • Modi visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and Serum Institute of India in Pune
  • 'Serum Institute shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing,' says Modi on Twitter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday concluded his three-city visit to personally review the vaccine development and manufacturing process for Covid being done by various pharma companies. He visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and Serum Institute of India in Pune.

"The scientists expressed joy that the Prime Minister met them face to face in order to boost their morale and help accelerate their efforts at this critical juncture in the vaccine development journey. Prime Minister expressed pride in the fact that India’s indigenous vaccine development has progressed at such a rapid pace so far. He spoke on how India is following sound principles of science in the entire journey of vaccine development, while also asking for suggestions to make the vaccine distribution process better," said Prime Minister's Office in an official release.

Prime Minister stressed that India considers vaccines as not only vital to good health but also as a global good, and it is India’s duty to assist other countries, including the nations in our neighbourhood, in the collective fight against the virus, PMO added.

He asked the scientists to express their free and frank opinion on how the country could further improve its regulatory process. The scientists also presented an overview of how they are also developing various new and repurposed drugs to better fight Covid-19.

Modi began his whirlwind trip on Saturday morning by visiting the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad to know more about the indigenous DNA based vaccine being developed by Zydus Cadila.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, "Visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad to know more about the indigenous DNA based vaccine being developed by Zydus Cadila. I compliment the team behind this effort for their work. Government of India is actively working with them to support them in this journey."

Modi spent over an hour at the plant, before leaving for the airport, from where he left for Hyderabad at 11.40 am. Modi landed at Hakimpet Air Force station near Hyderabad around 1 pm and proceeded to pharma major Bharat Biotech's vaccine manufacturing facility at Genome valley, located around 20 km from the air station, by road.

Modi tweeted: "At the Bharat Biotech facility in Hyderabad, was briefed about their indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. Congratulated the scientists for their progress in the trials so far. Their team is closely working with ICMR to facilitate speedy progress."

At the facility, he reviewed the progress of Covaxin, a vaccine candidate being developed by the company. He also interacted with Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella, scientists and senior management.

After leaving the facility, Modi got down from his vehicle at the main gate and waved to media persons and the cheering crowd standing nearby.

Covaxin, being developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology, is undergoing phase-3 trials.

At 3.20 pm, Modi took off for Pune, where he landed at 4.30 pm. From the airport, Modi proceeded by helicopter to the Serum Institute of India (SII) at Manjari, located 17 km from the airport.

From Hyderabad, Modi went to Serum Institute of India in Pune.

"Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility," said Modi on Twitter.

Modi's visit to Zydus Cadila's manufacturing facility near Ahmedabad where a coronavirus vaccine is being developed was encouraging, the pharma major said.

Wearing a PPE kit, he reviewed the vaccine development process at the company's research centre, located over 20 km from Ahmedabad.

Modi was extensively briefed about the vaccine work at the plant by the company officials. He was briefed about the vaccine production procedure. He interacted with scientists and vaccine developers, an official said.

"Today, honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modiji visited our Zydus Biotech park. This visit has encouraged us in doing more and doing fast," the company's Chairman Pankaj Patel said in a video statement.

"His knowledge, wisdom about the problem, and his guidance have been valuable for our scientific staff and for all of us," Patel added.

"India's journey in the Atmanirbhar Bharat -- scientists, 1,800 of them, and 25,000 Zydans (employees) -- are continuously striving and working for providing safe and efficacious vaccines, better COVID treatment and diagnostics," he said.

Zydus Cadila had announced earlier that the phase-I clinical trial of its vaccine candidate ZyCoV-D was over and it had commenced phase-II clinical trials from August.

Patel recently said the company is aiming to complete the vaccine trial by March 2021, and could produce up to 100 million doses a year.

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