Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held an interaction session with the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers in the country after the nation administered 100 crore vaccines. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar were also present in the meeting.
During the meeting, Modi discussed various issues including furthering the vaccine research, a statement from the Prime Minister's office said.
Representatives from seven vaccine makers -- Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Zydus Cadila, Biological E, Gennova Biopharma and Panacea Biotech -- participated in the meeting.
Following the meeting, Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute of India credited Modi's vision for the milestone and said they in the meeting discussed how to take the industry forward and prepare for future pandemics, to continue enhancing the capacity.
"All over the world now, countries are going to invest in vaccine production and India needs to stay ahead. We discussed how to do that together with industry and government," he said.
His father Cyrus Poonawalla said, "Had it not been for him (Modi) and (he) driving the health ministry, today India would not have been able to make a billion doses. There is no doubt in my mind about that."
The prime minister was happy that the assurance given by the Serum Institute that it will make India self-sufficient in vaccines at the lowest possible price in the world was fulfilled.
"The PM went out of the way and made regulatory people move very fast and they also cooperated," he added. Pankaj Patel of Zydus, another vaccine maker, said Modi was the "biggest factor" in the development of the DNA-based COVID vaccine.
He praises the prime minister for his encouragement and support and also for mentioning the DNA vaccine at his address at the United Nations. The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country have exceeded 101.30 crore, according to the latest health ministry data.
On October 21, India achieved a major milestone in its vaccination programme against COVID-19 as the cumulative vaccine doses administered in the country surpassed the 100-crore mark, resulting in celebratory events across various parts.
After the meeting, Krishna Illa of Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer of Covaxin, said reaching the milestone of 100 crore doses was not easy but Modi was determined to make it and he converted all the initial "negativity" into an opportunity. "He made it happen. I think that is the greatest thing a leader can do for any country," Ella said.
Bharat Biotech's Joint Managing Director Suchitra Ella, who was also present in the meeting, thanked the PM for the interaction.
"Thanks to PMO for the invitation, thought-provoking interaction and insights to make Indian biopharma companies prepare ahead for leadership in global innovation and manufacturing," she tweeted.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla also tweeted, "The vaccine industry and I, thank you Shri @narendramodi Ji, for an excellent interaction. We feel energised and encouraged by the vision you have laid out for the industry."
More than 75 per cent of India's adult population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with nine states and union territories administering the first dose to all eligible people.
Over 31 per cent of the country's around 93 crore adults have been administered both doses, according to health ministry officials. So far, all adult population in nine states and union territories -- Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Dadra and Nagar Haveli -- have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.
Three vaccines -- Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Sputnik V -- are currently being used in the country's Covid vaccination drive.