Asia

Coronavirus: PM Modi promises locally made vaccine for every Indian citizen

NEW DELHI • India has three Covid-19 vaccines under trial and will ensure that a vaccine reaches every citizen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said yesterday, paying tribute to those fighting the coronavirus pandemic that is surging across the country.

Mr Modi also announced a national digital health mission to bolster the healthcare system with the digitisation of health records as well as a registry of doctors and health facilities across the country.

Every Indian will be given a health ID, Mr Modi said during his address to the nation on India’s Independence Day from the capital New Delhi’s 17th-century Red Fort.

“Every test, every health issue, every prescription and report will be included in this health ID,” he said. “All problems around fixing appointments and making payments will be resolved through the new health mission.”

India is racing to produce an indigenous Covid-19 vaccine.

Bharat Biotech International, an unlisted vaccine-maker, has received regulatory approval from India’s apex medical research body to start human clinical trials.

According to news reports, the vaccine will be ready for stage two human trials next month.

Zydus Cadila and Serum Institute of India also have vaccines under trial.

Once a vaccine is approved, “the road map for its production and distribution among Indians is also ready”, Mr Modi said.

Meanwhile, the government is struggling to contain the spread of the virus.

The outbreak in India is growing at one of the fastest paces in the world, with as many as 60,000 new cases each day.

India has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases after the United States and Brazil, as well as the highest death toll after the US, Brazil and Mexico.

READY TO GO

The road map for its production and distribution among Indians is also ready.

INDIA’S PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI, on the country’s race to produce a Covid-19 vaccine of its own. India has three vaccines under trial.

Mr Modi also reiterated his plan to make India a global manufacturing hub, noting that even during the pandemic, foreign direct investment had grown by 18 per cent and companies were still looking to invest in the country.

“This confidence has developed because India worked on its democracy, on policies and on strengthening the foundation of its democracy,” he said. “Many businesses… are looking at India as a centre for their supply chains.”

The South Asian nation’s main focus will be the creation of a pipeline of national infrastructure projects worth more than 110 trillion rupees (S$2 trillion), he said. “Now, along with ‘Make In India’, we will have to move ahead with the mantra of ‘Make For World’.”

This year’s Independence Day event was truncated because of social distancing measures.

Schoolchildren, normally present at the celebration, were not included, and the guest list was much shorter than in previous years, according to the Defence Ministry, which organises the annual event.

All the guests were seated about 2m apart, and the ceremonial military drills also observed social distancing.

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