The world will not have enough vaccines to fight Covid-19 if India is not involved in vaccine manufacturing, according to Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at World Health Organisation (WHO).
She was speaking on the occasion of the 22nd National Technology Day during a virtual event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Monday.
“India has a key role to play in the fight against Covid-19. Scientists must lead the fight and it is happening now,” observed Dr Swaminathan.
Urging all countries to learn from the ongoing pandemic, Dr Swaminathan said, “This pandemic is a time when countries must review the weaknesses in their present healthcare systems.”
Prof K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific adviser to the government of India, lauded the efforts of Indian scientists to participate in drug development initiatives.
“India is called a drug manufacturer. But with nearly 30 drugs presently undergoing trials, India’s participation in drug development is encouraging,” said Prof Raghavan, who added that public-private engagement must continue even post the pandemic phase.
Prof Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST), said, “Science and Technology will be the key driver in this fight. The government would have proper structure, architecture and programmes that will push research.”
Dr Swaminathan also called for greater collaborations, and more so towards knowledge and experience sharing to fight Covid-19.
Strongly recommending that India be promoted as a research hub in the coming months, VK Saraswat, member of NITI Ayog and former chief of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said India must double its number of researchers.
” Indian industry has been working on an import model and this needs to be modified post the pandemic. Our country should become self-sustainable. Besides, the number of researchers must be doubled and they must be provided with assured employment,” he said.
With the pandemic shifting the nature of working across most sectors, Saraswat highlighted that it was time for setting up a digital infrastructure in the country. “We will need digital and online infrastructure that will support digital factories, allow online learning and facilitate tele-healthcare services,” he said.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, minister for Science and Technology, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Earth Sciences, said that Covid-19 has united Indian scientists and technology experts like never before in the fight against the pandemic.
Every year since 1998, May 11 is celebrated as Technology Day to mark the successful nuclear tests carried out by India in Pokhran. This year, the theme is ‘Restart and Reboot Economy through Science and Technology’.
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