New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a virtual meeting with manufacturers of the vaccine against Covid-19 on Tuesday, in his third such interaction with focus groups amid a marked surge in coronavirus disease cases across India. On Monday, the Prime Minister held a series of discussions with top doctors and representatives of India’s pharmaceutical industry, following which he ordered expanding the scope of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive to include everyone above the age of 18 from May 1.
Prime Minister Modi’s meeting on Tuesday is scheduled to be held through video conferencing at 6pm. Those expected to be present are representatives of top vaccine manufacturers from India and abroad, including the companies whose Covid-19 vaccines have already been approved by the government, news agency PTI reported, adding that the department of biotechnology will likely be making a presentation and coordinate with all the participants.
The central government on Monday announced that all adults will become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine and doses can be sold via the market from May 1. The decision came amid a growing clamour for wider access as the country grapples with a devastating surge of Covid-19 infections.
India reported 259,170 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Union health ministry’s dashboard at 8:30am on Tuesday, pushing the country’s infection tally to 15,321,089. India is dealing with a deadlier, more infectious second wave of the coronavirus pandemic which is exhausting the country’s already overburdened health care system to its limits, with reports emerging of hospitals running out of ICU beds and crucial supplies such as oxygen cylinders. Over 126 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered across the country till now, as per the health ministry’s provisional report till 8pm on Monday.
So far, two vaccines–Oxford University and Astrazeneca’s vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute in India as Covidshield and the indigenously-developed Covaxin by Bharat Biotech–are being administered in India, while a third vaccine, Sputnik V, developed in Russia and to be imported and sold in India by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, has also been approved by the Indian drug regulator. Other vaccines available globally and expected soon in India include those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
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