Fri, 03 Dec 2021

New Delhi [India], October 21 (ANI): As the country achieved the milestone of vaccinating over 100 crore Indians against COVID-19 on ThursdayEven after witnessing the havoc created by the two waves of the pandemic, India emerged out of its effects by ramping up the pharma manufacturing sector and maintaining a resilient supply chain of essential drugs.

The Centre in an official statement has stated that vaccination drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, advanced visibility of vaccine availability to states and union territories for enabling better planning by them and streamlining the vaccine supply chain.

During the second wave in the pandemic that hit the country around April this year, the Department of Pharmaceuticals undertook the task of making the essential COVID-related drugs available across the country in active partnership with the manufacturers of these drugs.

According to official information, the monitoring of production and availability of drugs has been carried out as a joint exercise by the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) under the Department of Pharmaceuticals and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

A COVID Drugs Management Cell (CDMC) was formally set up on April 26 this year in the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) to oversee the management of smooth supply of drugs used in COVID-19 management during the pandemic.

Amid the pandemic, production of essential drugs like Remdesivir, Liposomal Amphotericin-B and notably the COVID-19 vaccines were increased.

License to manufacture Remdesivir was granted to seven Indian pharmaceutical companies. The domestic production capacity of all the seven licensed manufacturers was augmented from 38 lakh vials per month in April 2021 to nearly 122 lakh vials per month in June 2021.

For, Liposomal Amphotericin B, a drug used in the treatment of Mucormycosis also known as black fungus, new licenses were granted by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) in favour of 11 new manufacturers during the months of May-June 2021 in addition to the existing five manufacturers of this drug. The domestic production was also increased from 62,000 vials in April 2021 to 3.45 lakh vials in July 2021. Similarly, quantities of imports have substantially increased from 26,165 in April 2021 to 5.09 lakh in July 2021.

It is interesting to look at the nation's vaccination journey. India commenced its nationwide COVID vaccination drive on January 16, 2021. Starting initially by inoculating vaccines to healthcare workers, it was then expanded to frontline workers, followed by people above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with comorbidities. Later it was also expanded to all above 45 years of age and then those above 18 years of age.

To fortify the vaccination drive, pharmaceutical companies like Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India, Zydus Cadila, Biological E, among others were roped in to manufacture a sufficient number of vaccine doses.

When the world was gripped by the clutches of the pandemic, the country looked at setting up manufacturing units of COVID-19 vaccines and expediting the global vaccine delivery. With the establishment of vaccine manufacturing units, countries across the world looked at India for its supply.

Ahead of the sixth edition of the annual program on Pharmaceuticals and Medical Device sector - India PharmaIndia Medical Device 2021-- held in February this year, former Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers D V Sadananda Gowda had said, "India is a leading exporter of affordable generics and a major hub for medical devices and diagnostics. India has been serving more than 200 countries and territories with its Pharma products and will continue to discharge its responsibilities."He said, "The total market size of the Indian pharma industry is expected to reach USD 130 billion by 2030. The medical devices industry in India has the potential to reach USD 50 bn by 2025."Meanwhile, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya had said, "During the pandemic, Indian pharma industries supplied the necessary medicines to over 120 countries while fulfilling the country's own needs. He said that India has launched the world's largest Covid-19 vaccination program and is at the centre of the global effort to provide vaccines to other countries."India, having low-cost manpower, pushed its pharmaceutical sector to provide a sufficient supply of vaccines to other countries but at the same time ensured that its own population gets vaccinated.

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India's standing as 'the pharmacy of the world' remained intact.

'Vaccine Maitri', an initiative that was started by the Central government to provide COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world, reinforced India's credentials as a trusted, reliable manufacturer and supplier of quality vaccines.

The government on October 7 permitted the Serum Institute of India (SII) to export 10 lakh Covishield doses each to Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. It allowed Bharat Biotech to provide 10 lakh doses to Iran.

By exporting vaccines, India remained a critical node in the global health supply chain and established itself as a selfless contributor to global health security.

The country emerged as a net provider of health security and successfully shouldered its responsibility as the pharmacy of the world. Even amidst the pandemic, India continued to export critical life-saving medicines to the countries.

In the recent past, the country's efforts have been noted by leaders abroad. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in March had appreciated India's role as the pharmacy of the world.

Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said that the capacity to produce vaccines of India is one of the "best assets that the world has today".

Terming India as 'pharmacy of the world', the UK in January had lauded the efforts regarding the production of coronavirus vaccine and said, "India already supplies more than 50 per cent of the world's vaccines, and the UK and India have worked closely together throughout the pandemic."In line with its Neighbourhood First policy, India has rolled out Indian-made Covishield vaccines to several countries including Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal to aid the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten lakh doses of Covaxin have been exported to Iran under Vaccine Maitri. (ANI)

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