Herculean Efforts Paid Off, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to Scientists on Covid-19 Vaccine Approval

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Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the Herculean efforts of scientists have finally paid off as two coronavirus vaccines have been developed at a record-breaking speed and granted authorisation in India. Vardhan, who also holds the charge of Union Health Ministry, said new diagnostic tests can detect the virus within minutes.

Massive open science data sets of viral genomes and COVID-19 cases have produced the most detailed picture yet of a new disease's evolution, he said. "It has all been possible due to the exemplary and collaborative efforts of scientists across the world.

"We needed a vaccine against COVID. The Herculean efforts made by our scientists have finally paid off. Today, we have several vaccines that have been developed across the world, two of which have been developed at a record-breaking speed and granted authorisation in India," Vardhan said. India's drugs regulator on Sunday approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.

Vardhan was speaking at the National Physical Laboratory event organised on the occasion of the 75th Foundation day. The NPL, an institute under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is one of the oldest laboratories in the country. On this occassion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated National Atomic Timescale and Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya to the nation. The NPL has adopted an international practice for production of Indian Certified Reference Material (CRMs) Trademarked as Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya.

Vardhan said in the era of the digital economy and communication, time-stamping on events is inevitable. "Therefore, NPL has established the New National Facility of Backup Time Scale Laboratory. This is a crucial support for the Digital India Mission of the government," Vardhan noted.