Govt to initiate a robust COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing & delivery ecosystem to meet the demand: Dr Harsh Vardhan

New Delhi: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Earth Sciences, Govt of India today said that as the world races to find a cure and vaccine for COVID-19, India is looking to be self-reliant in both development of the vaccine and its mass production.

Addressing the virtual Global R&D Summit 2020, organized by FICCI, jointly with the DST, Govt of India, Dr Vardhan said, “Called as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, India has the largest capacity to produce COVID-19 vaccines. We have now started to look at a robust vaccine manufacturing and delivery ecosystem to meet our demands in the coming days. That is one area where your (industry) input will help us in not only addressing a topical issue but also creating best practices for the future.”

Research and innovation, he said, are the way of life. “The current pandemic has only reinforced our belief in innovation and R&D to accelerate products and services that not only are helping in disease management but in turn to make our nation resilient and self-reliant,” added Dr Vardhan.

He further stated that it is time for bold decisions and bold investments, and not for conservative approaches. “This also is the time to move from a command-and-control economy to plug-and-play and to build a competitive global supply chain. We are committed to help companies invest in India and make for India and for the World,” he added.

Fuelled by the current pandemic, Dr Vardhan said that India is transitioning from an era of liberalization and globalization to one where it must reinvent itself to become a self-reliant country. “People, planet, and profits are interlinked, and all three can simultaneously co-exist and flourish. With support from the government and private industry, the Indian R&D sector can reach new heights and will contribute to the nations’ growth and prosperity,” he noted.

Mr Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister, ICT Division, Ministry of Post, Telecommunications and IT, Govt of Bangladesh said that the government has established a National Innovation Agency, which will work towards building an ecosystem and provide a conducive policy environment with support of industry, research lab universities, and entrepreneurs. “As the pandemic continues to threaten the economies of the world, Bangladesh is relying on digital technologies, strong infrastructure, and human resources to steer it’s way to a new normal. This is not the time to compete but rather to collaborate, to build a better world together.”

Dr Sangita Reddy, President, FICCI said that the COVID-19 outbreak has emphasized the need for the nations to be self-reliant, and to embrace multilateral inclusive growth of a sustainable and inclusive nature where we leave no one behind. “The government and the private sector play a critical role in driving the economic growth and social development of a country. A coherent and symbiotic association between them has the potential to catalyze breakthrough changes. Particularly, in the R&D ecosystem, a synergistic outcome can be achieved when both come together to set the agenda.”

Mr Sanjay Nayak, Chair, FICCI Science, Technology & Innovation Committee and CEO & MD, Tejas Networks said that a robust research and development ecosystem is essential for any nation as it will have a long-lasting financial impact on businesses. “The pandemic has highlighted that advancements in science and technology are imperative for scalable and sustainable socio-economic progress of any country,” he added.

Dr Desh Deshpande, Board Member, MIT Corporation, Co-Chairman of President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and President & Chairman, Sparta Group LLC said that unless we create a virtual cycle where innovation has a social and economic impact on the society, the society would not be able to feedback into the innovation cycle. “If you want the innovative system to have any impact, you have to have a conscious effort of connecting that innovator to relevance,” he added

 

Mr Sanjeev K Varshney, Head, International Cooperation, DST delivered the vote of thanks.