60 envoys to visit two Hyderabad vaccine facilities
At least 60 heads of foreign missions are set to visit two Hyderabad-based biotech companies working on Covid-19 vaccines on December 9 as part of India’s efforts to develop partnerships for the manufacturing and delivery of vaccines.
The visit by diplomats to the facilities of Bharat Biotech and Biological E will be a follow-up to the November 6 briefing for the diplomatic corps in New Delhi on trials of vaccines underway in the country and efforts to manufacture and deliver the doses, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.
“More than 60 heads of missions are being taken to leading biotech companies in Hyderabad. This is the first such visit and it will be followed by trips to facilities in other cities,” said one of the people cited above.
The people said India has been contributing significantly to global efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic and there is a lot of interest in India’s vaccine development and manufacturing efforts. “India is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis,” the person cited above said.
Bharat Biotech recently started phase-III trials for Covaxin, which is India’s first vaccine candidate. Covaxin seems to have been largely safe and significantly triggered the immune response needed to fight off the infection, according to officials. Covaxin was developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - National Institute of Virology using inactivated Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Biological E’s vaccine candidate is set to start early phases I and II trials.
The November 6 briefing, led by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, was attended by envoys and senior members of the diplomatic corps. Niti Aayog member VK Paul, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan and other senior officials were part of the briefing.
Given India’s position as the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, many countries, especially developing nations, are looking to New Delhi for a helping hand with the doses. Amid the pandemic, India had rushed essential medicines and equipment to many countries in the neighbourhood and in Africa.
India is also looking for partners to co-produce vaccines so that they can be manufactured faster and distributed on a larger scale. New Delhi could offer free supply or trial partnerships to South Asian, European, West Asian, African and Latin American countries for the vaccine to ensure they can ramp up their drive to protect their populations from Covid-19