Updated: February 1, 2021 6:40:35 pm
Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has welcomed the Rs 64,180 crore outlay on health infrastructure and Rs 35,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccines in the Union Budget. “We welcome the move for vaccines as it will encourage more manufacturers to take up vaccine production and build India’s capacity. Any investment in health is also welcome and pays us many times over because a healthy individual can perform and disruptions to the economy can be reduced,” Poonawalla told The Indian Express.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced PM Aatmanirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana, a new government-sponsored health scheme, to boost healthcare infrastructure across the country. The budget also provided Rs 35,000 crore towards Covid-19 vaccination for 2021-22.
Earlier, Poonawalla announced Serum Institute’s partnership with the makers of Novavax, a Covid vaccine that demonstrated promising results. “We have also applied to start trials in India and hope to launch Covavax by June 2021,” Poonawalla had tweeted.
Top vaccine scientist Dr Gagandeep Kang said the investment on new vaccines will have a knock on effect.
“India’s vaccines for COVID19 and for other diseases are important for India and for the world. Strengthening adult immunization in India through COVID19 has the potential to allow us to better tackle the delivery of additional important vaccines like new approaches to TB vaccination, typhoid, rabies and influenza where vaccines exist but their potential is as yet unrealized. Investments in new Covid-19 vaccines will also have knock on effects to increase R&D for new platforms and new targets so we are better prepared for the next pandemic,” Dr Kang said.
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia Region, in a statement said: “The thrust and focus on health in India’s budget announcement for 2021 is a testimony to the country’s commitment to not just fight back the COVID-19 pandemic, but to build a stronger and resilient health system. One of the greatest lessons this pandemic has taught the world is that health needs to be a priority. India has been demonstrating this. India has not only proactively and belligerently dealt with the pandemic, it has and continues to support countries in the South-East Asia Region and beyond, providing essential medical supplies and now vaccines, to protect the vulnerable populations against the pandemic.”
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