Modi promises locally-made Covid-19 vaccine for all Indians

NEW DELHI – India has three Covid-19 vaccines under trial and will ensure a vaccine reaches every citizen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, paying tribute to those fighting the coronavirus pandemic that’s surging across India.

Modi also announced a National Digital Health Mission to bolster India’s health-care system that’s expected to include the digitization of health records as well as a registry of doctors and health facilities across the country.

Every India will be given a health ID, Modi said while addressing the nation on India’s Independence Day from the ramparts of New Delhi’s 17th-century Red Fort on Saturday. “Every test, every health issue, every prescription and reports will be included in this health ID,” Modi said. “All problems around fixing appointment and making payments will be resolved through the new health mission.”

India is racing to produce an indigenous vaccine. Bharat Biotech International, an unlisted Indian vaccine maker, received regulatory approval to start human clinical trials for its experimental shot from India’s apex medical research body. News reports say the vaccine will be ready for stage 2 human trials in September. Zydus Cadila and Serum Institute of India also have vaccines under trial.

Once a vaccine is approved, “the road map for its production and distribution among Indians is also ready,” Modi said.

The government is struggling to contain the spread of virus, which is growing at one of the fastest paces in world and adding as many as 60,000 case each day. It has the most confirmed cases after the US and Brazil and highest death toll after US, Brazil and Mexico.

Global Hub

Modi also reiterated his plan to make India a global manufacturing hub, noting even during the coronavirus pandemic, foreign direct investment grew by 18 percent and companies were still looking to invest in the nation.

“This confidence has developed because India worked on its democracy, on policies and on the strengthening the foundation of its democracy,” Modi said. “Many businesses across India are looking at India as a center for their supply chains.”

The South Asian nation’s main focus will be the creation of a pipeline of national infrastructure projects worth more than 110 trillion rupees ($1.5 trillion), Modi said. “Now along with Make in India, we will have to move ahead with the mantra of Make for World.”

This year’s event has been truncated because of social distancing norms. School children, normally present at the celebration, were not included and the guest list is much shorter than in previous years, according to the defense ministry which organizes the day’s events.

All the guests were seated at least six feet apart and the ceremonial military drills also maintained social distancing norms.

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