61 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have already been administered in India, while the country has given 64 million doses to 84 nations under various programmes, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday.
Participating in a virtual panel discussion on vaccine production and distribution across Asia at the 'World Immunisation and Logistics Summit', Vardhan detailed how the infrastructure of India's universal immunization programme provided a pivot for its Covid-19 vaccination drive.
Over 1,000 attendees from across the Indo-Pacific region and world participated in the virtual conference to discuss key issues of global supply chains as the world faces the largest and most complex logistical operation in history in an effort to deliver life-saving vaccines worldwide, the health ministry said in a statement.
It said the panel was informed how India is scaling up production of Covid-19 vaccines and how the government was working with local and international partners to ensure timely distribution of the same.
Reminding everyone that India produces 60 per cent of the world's vaccine, Vardhan said, "More than 61 million vaccine doses have already been administered in our country and 64 million doses have been given to 84 countries under various programmes. We always feel that benefits of science be delivered to the whole world."
At the summit, he showcased India's vaccine drive, the development of two vaccines -- Covishield and Covaxin -- as well as the priority pyramid of beneficiaries.
The Union health minister said that half a dozen vaccines are under clinical trials and around one dozen are in pre-clinical trials which are being monitored by an expert group for vaccine NEGVAC.
Applauding initiatives for collaboration, including the HOPE consortium, as a welcome step, he observed, "It is going to help in shaping the future policy for equitable distribution of the vaccine."
This will strengthen the efforts of WHO in their commitment to ensuring that there is a common platform invalidation, all manufacturing companies of the world are on the same page and all stakeholders are committed to equitable distribution of vaccines, the minister said.
"We have learnt from each other's experiences and from various guidelines. There is a great need for this exercise to be scaled up. We need to introspect and review till the time everyone on this platform gets vaccinated."
Recollecting the biggest challenges faced by him in terms of rolling out the vaccination programme, Vardhan said India itself with a huge population of 1.35 billion and huge diversity is a big challenge.
"We took this challenge head-on under the leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On January 17 last year, we had issued an advisory regarding Covid long before it snowballed into the crisis it is today.
"We also developed capacities for testing, ventilators, tracking, surveillance, quarantine centre and emphasized that Covid Appropriate Behaviour is the most potent vaccine against Covid," he was quoted as saying in the statement.
(With inputs from PTI)