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Medical diplomacy boosts India’s image, world awaits vaccine

Medical diplomacy boosts India’s image, world awaits vaccine

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s medical diplomacy, amid the coronavirus pandemic, is paying dividends. As India inches closer to developing a coronavirus vaccine, the government is upping the ante to ensure that this all-important thread of diplomacy is taken to another height.

Aided by lower prices, India is already a supplier over 50 per cent of global demand for various vaccines, 40 per cent of generic demand in the US and 25 per cent of all medicine in the UK, according to India Brand Equity Foundation (ibef.org), a government website.

Modi, delivering his Independence Day speech said that three coronavirus vaccines were currently at the stage of clinical trials and mass production would begin as soon as they get the required approvals.

“India today has three vaccines that are in the stage of clinical testing. We are also ready to massively scale up production of these vaccines, as soon as scientists give a green signal,” Modi said.

“All eyes are set on India, as it has been supplying critical vaccines to the world and now as it is close to developing a coronavirus vaccine, there is much curiosity. Even as many naysayers have questioned the efficacy of the vaccine considering that there was paucity of time for clinical trials, India is well on its way to come up with a vaccine very soon,” a senior executive of a pharmaceutical company told IN on condition of anonymity.

Earlier this month, the government announced that India was ready to start exporting ventilators as the manufacturing of the same has increased manifold. Until August, export of ventilators was barred to ensure that there was no dearth of ventilators for patients in India.

A Health Ministry statement said, “Now with export of ventilators having been allowed, it is hoped that domestic ventilators would be in a position to find new markets for Indian ventilators in foreign countries.”

Meanwhile India, which had no facility for producing personal protective equipment (PPE) till March, has resorted to mass export of the protective gears to several other countries. According to estimates, India has exported more than 20 lakh PPEs until now. India currently is producing about 5 lakh PPE kits daily.

Besides PPE kits, India has also exported large number of N95 masks and the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which has been used to treat the virus. India has largely exported the HCQ tablets to its neighbors, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Further, Indian military doctors have also been sent to countries like Nepal and Maldives to provide required medical assistance..