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Covid-19 vaccine: PM Modi talks logistics with firms, all-party meet soon

The vaccine development and distribution programme is also expected to be discussed at an all-party meeting called by the Centre on December 4 to discuss the Covid-19 situation.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M , Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: December 1, 2020 11:18:12 am
Covid-19 vaccine: PM Modi talks logistics with firms, all-party meet soonPM Narendra Modi being briefed during a visit to the Zydus Biotech Park to review the development of COVID-19 vaccine, in Ahmedabad (PTI)

TWO DAYS after he visited vaccine manufacturing facilities in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a virtual meeting with three more pharmaceutical companies whose vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are currently in clinical trials.

The vaccine development and distribution programme is also expected to be discussed at an all-party meeting called by the Centre on December 4 to discuss the Covid-19 situation.

The parliamentary affairs ministry, which is coordinating the virtual meeting to be chaired by Modi from 10.30 am on Friday, has extended invitations to the floor leaders of all parties in both the Houses.

At his meeting with the teams from Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd, Pune, Biological E Ltd, Hyderabad, and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, Hyderabad, on Monday, Modi asked them for suggestions on regulatory processes.

“He also suggested that they should take extra efforts to inform the general public in simple language about the vaccine and related matters such as its efficacy etc. Matters relating to logistics, transport, cold chain, etc in respect of delivering the vaccines were also discussed,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

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Modi also emphasised the announcement made in the third stimulus package of Rs 900 crore for Mission Covid Suraksha, the vaccine development programme. The PMO statement said the potential of various platforms for vaccine development was discussed. Matters relating to logistics, transport, cold chain etc. with regard to delivering the vaccines were also discussed, it said.

“The PM advised all the departments concerned to engage with the manufacturers and seek to resolve matters so that the efforts by these companies bear fruit in order to serve the needs of the country and the entire world,” the statement said.

Earlier, Modi chaired a high-level meeting with chief ministers and held various rounds of video conferences in which he emphasised the crucial role of the states in vaccine administration.

At the November 24 meeting, he asked the states to provide their plans for a final blueprint on vaccine distribution. He asked them to build decentralised mechanisms till the block level, in the form of task forces, to ensure smooth rollout.

Read | PM Modi impressed with SII facility, wants vaccine out at earliest: Cyrus Poonawalla

The all-party meeting on Friday will be the second one called by the government to discuss the Covid-19 situation. The first meeting was held in April, amid a nationwide lockdown.

On Saturday, Modi had visited the vaccine manufacturing facilities of Zydus in Ahmedabad, Serum Institute in Pune and Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, the government said ambassadors of 100 countries are scheduled to go to Pune on December 4 to visit the Serum Institute of India and Gennova Biopharma facilities.

In collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, US, Gennova has developed an mRNA vaccine candidate (HGCO19), with demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, neutralisation antibody activity in the rodent and non-human primate models.

Biological E Limited (BE), a vaccines and pharmaceutical company, had earlier this month initiated a Phase I/II clinical trial of its vaccine candidate in India. The company is preparing the vaccine in collaboration with US-based Dynavax Technologies Corporation and the Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr Reddy’s has partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to conduct clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Russia.

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