Massive additional capacities to ramp up coronavirus vaccine production: Shringla

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New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) Massive additional capacities to ramp up coronavirus vaccine production are being created in India and the country will continue to work with its international partners to boost the manufacturing, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday.

His comments came as India looks at significantly expanding the vaccination programme across the country amid a devastating wave of coronavirus pandemic.

At a media briefing, the foreign secretary said international cooperation in vaccine production was crucial and India is working with its partners like the US, Japan, Russia and many others on it.

'As we speak, massive additional capacities in vaccine production are being created. Bharat BioTech is ramping up production, its tripling and quadrupling production. SII (Serum Institute of India) has very ambitious plans to expand production.

'You have new vaccines coming into the market, be it Sputnik or other companies. I think in the next two to three months, we will see a very very significant increase in capacities,' he said.

SII produces Covishield vaccines while Bharat Biotech manufactures Covaxin vaccine.

Shringla said without global partnership, it will be difficult to meet the coronavirus challenge in India and elsewhere.

'The entire vaccine production on a global basis is based on international cooperation. We have been member of COVAX. We contributed to COVAX,' he said.

COVAX is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. 'COVAX also in some ways assisted us in our own research and development efforts and development of the vaccine industry. Today, if you are looking at give and take in terms of vaccines, that is part of that international cooperation,' Shringla said.

He said it is very clear that India is a major manufacturer of vaccines and cooperation for augmenting production under Quad framework is also going on well.

'Under the Quad framework, India is getting funding and support from the US and Japan for creating additional capacities that would enable both the manufacturer and the export of vaccines from India into the Indo-Pacific, in particular South East Asia.

'That is going very well. The programme that I think is proceeding well. It takes a bit of time because creating capacities in vaccines is not an overnight business.' Shringla said it needs a lot of investment and a lot of civil and scientific work.

'The one lesson we have learnt from COVID is that it is not something you can deal with within your country and say I am okay,' he said.

'COVID is global in nature. Unless you eradicate COVID all over the world, you are not going to be safe from that. You cannot have islands which are completely COVID free and places which have large incidents of COVID,' he added. PTI MPB ZMN