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India-made vaccines have rescued the world, says top US scientist

Covid-19 vaccines "India's gift" to the world

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines by India has "rescued the world" from the deadly coronavirus and the contributions by the country must not be underestimated, a top US scientist has said.

Dr Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston during a recent webinar said that the two mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) may not impact the world's low and middle income countries, but India's vaccines, made in collaboration with universities across the world such as Oxford University, have "rescued the world" and its contributions must not be underestimated, a PTI report from Houston quoted him as saying.

During the webinar, "COVID-19: Vaccination and Potential Return to Normalcy – If and When", Dr Hotez, an internationally-recognised physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development, said that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is "India's gift'' to the world in combating the virus.

"This is something very special and I see it myself because I'm on weekly teleconferences with our colleagues in India, you make a recommendation, and within days it's done and not only done, but it's done well and with incredible rigor and thought and creativity," Dr Hotez said, stressing that he felt compelled to make this statement because "India's huge efforts in combating global pandemic is a story that's not really getting out in the world."

Dr Hotez, considered as the authority on vaccinations, is working on an affordable coronavirus vaccine in collaboration with Indian pharmaceutical companies.

Consul General of India in Houston, Aseem Mahajan, along with a distinguished panel of doctors participated in the webinar organized by Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH).

 India-made coronavirus vaccines have already been provided to 25 countries while another 49 nations are in the queue. India is currently producing the Covishield, produced at the Pune-based Serum Institute of India in collaboration with British pharma major AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and Covaxin, indigenously developed jointly by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and Indian Council of Medical Research scientists. Covaxin has cleared the phase 3 human trials, in which it was administered to 28,000 individuals, with an efficacy rate of 81%.

There is a growing demand for Indian vaccines as the country has emerged as the “pharmacy of the world” amid the huge shortage that has developed for the shots worldwide.

Indian vaccines are much cheaper and easier to handle as they can be stored at ordinary refrigeration temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius making them affordable for developing countries. The western-made Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, on the other hand, are very expensive and have to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius and require expensive cold-chain infrastructure that does not exist in most countries.