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More made-in-India COVID vaccines in pipeline, Modi tells Davos

PM says New Delhi fulfilling global responsibilities in time of crisis

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda meetings on Jan. 28.

NEW DELHI -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the country, which has been shipping two locally made COVID-19 vaccines overseas, will be serving up more shots.

"So far only two made-in India vaccines have been introduced to the world [and] in the time to come, many more vaccines will be made available from India," Modi told the World Economic Forum's online Davos Agenda summit.

His remarks follow days after Indian-made coronavirus vaccines reached neighboring Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar; the Indian Ocean nations of the Seychelles and Mauritius; and Brazil and Morocco.  As regional rival China pursues its own vaccine diplomacy, other countries in South America, Africa and the Middle East are also trying to procure shots from India.

"These vaccines will help us in assisting countries across the world faster and on a much bigger scale," Modi said.

In what has been described as the world's largest coronavirus ​vaccination effort, India has "has vaccinated more than 2.3 million health workers" in the 12 days since the launch of the campaign on Jan. 16, Modi told the meeting.

The South Asian nation -- the country second-most afflicted by the pandemic, with over 10.7 million cases after the U.S.' 25.5 million -- is vaccinating 10 million health care providers and 20 million other front-line workers, including police and army personnel, in the first phase.

Phase 2 will cover 270 million people over the age of 50, along with those having such underlying medical conditions as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Modi's government has vowed to vaccinate 300 million people by July or August.

India's drug regulator earlier this month approved two vaccines for emergency use. One, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, is being made by Serum Institute of India under the brand name Covishield. The other, Covaxin, is a homegrown vaccine produced by Bharat Biotech. Both require  two doses to be administered 28 days apart and must be stored at temperatures from 2 C to 8 C.

The Serum Institute -- the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced -- is also preparing to manufacture more vaccines. Another Indian pharmaceutical company, Hetero, has signed a deal to locally produce the Russian-developed Sputnik V shot.

Not only is India inoculating its own people against COVID-19, it is also sending these vaccines to various countries and saving the lives of their citizens too, Modi said in his address.

"When corona had just started, we were procuring masks, PPE and testing kits from overseas. Today, not only are we fulfilling domestic demand, we are also sending these to other countries," the prime minister said.

Modi also said that India is now moving forward with the commitment to become self-reliant and this aspiration of the country "will strengthen globalism in a new way."

"I'm sure this [self-reliance] mission will be greatly benefited by Industry 4.0," he said. The fourth industrial revolution will have four key factors -- connectivity, automation, artificial intelligence or machine learning; and real-time data -- with India a leading player in all of them, Modi added.

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