November 2020

Coronavirus: India’s Narendra Modi visits vaccine centres as COVID-19 cases surge

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured three of the nation’s leading vaccine development and manufacturing sites on Saturday as coronavirus cases continue to soar. India has recorded 9.35 million total COVID-19 infections, second only to the United States. It reported 41,322 new cases and 485 deaths on Saturday. The western state of Maharashtra, which is home to India’s financial hub, Mumbai, has been particularly hard hit by the virus. Its tally of 1.68 million cases is higher than countries such as Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. Modi conducted a whirlwind three-city tour and visited the Zydus Cadila facility in the western city of Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech’s facilities in the southern hub of Hyderabad and the Serum Institute of India’s sprawling campus in the western city of Pune. Following the visits Modi said India’s role in developing vaccines was a global benefit and he was pleased with the rapid progress being made. “It is India’s duty to assist other countries, including the nations in our neighbourhood, in the collective fight against the virus,” Modi said in a statement. The companies are testing homegrown vaccine options, as well as working on trials of vaccines being developed overseas. Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has partnered with global players including AstraZeneca and Novavax Inc to run domestic trials on their vaccine candidates and produce the vaccines, if they secure approvals.