Glad chemicals & fertilizers ministry is making efforts to ramp up vaccine production: Gadkari

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New Delhi, May 19 (PTI) A day after he suggested that more pharma companies should be allowed to make COVID-19 vaccine in the country, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said he was glad that the chemicals and fertilizers ministry was already making efforts to ramp up vaccine production.

Seeking to provide clarifications, the minister also said he was unaware that before his speech on Tuesday, his ministerial colleague Mansukh Mandaviya had explained about efforts to ramp up vaccine production.

Mandaviya is Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers.

Gadkari's suggestion at the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch function on Tuesday that more pharma companies should be allowed to make the COVID-19 vaccine in the country during the pandemic to scale up production evoked reactions from opposition parties.

'Yesterday (on Tuesday)... I had made a suggestion to ramp up vaccine production. I was unaware that before my speech Minister for Chemical and Fertilizers Shri @mansukhmandiya had explained government's efforts to ramp up.

'After conference, he also informed me that, GoI is already facilitating vaccine manufacturing by 12 different plants/companies and rapid ramp up of production is expected in near future as a result of these efforts,' the road transport and highways minister said in a series of tweets.

Further, Gadkari said he was unaware that the chemicals and fertilizers ministry has started these efforts before he had given suggestion on Tuesday.

'I am glad and congratulate him and his team for this timely intervention in the right direction. I feel important to put this on record,' the minister said.

On Tuesday, Gadkari had said he will also request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring a law for allowing more pharma companies to manufacture life-saving drugs by paying 10 per cent royalty to the patent holder of the drug.

'If the demand of vaccine is more than its supply then it creates a problem. So, instead of one company, 10 more companies should be allowed to make vaccines by paying 10 per cent royalty to the original patent holder of the vaccine,' he had said.

Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the prime minister, saying the Centre should share the vaccine formula of the two manufacturers with other capable pharmaceutical companies to scale up production in the country.

There are two vaccine makers in the country currently -- Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India -- which are manufacturing Covaxin and Covishield, respectively.

These two firms can be given royalty from the profit of other companies for the use of their original formulas, Kejriwal had said.

Only three vaccines have so far been approved to be sold in India --- Covaxin, Coveshield and Sputnik.

Sputnik V has been approved to be imported from Russia by Dr Reddy's but is yet to be widely available in the country. PTI BKS CS HRS hrs