NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the country’s three leading vaccine development and production sites on Saturday as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
India has recorded 9.35 million COVID-19 infections, second only to the United States. It reported 41,322 new cases and 485 deaths as of Saturday.
The western state of Maharashtra – home to India’s financial hub Mumbai – has been hard hit by the virus. The tally is 1.68 million cases higher than for countries such as Spain, Italy and the UK.
Modi undertook a three-city whirlwind tour and visited the Zydus Cadila facility in the western city of Ahmedabad, the Bharat Biotech facility in the southern hub of Hyderabad and the sprawling campus at the Serum Institute of India in the western city of Pune.
After the visit, Modi said India’s role in developing the vaccine was a global good and he was pleased with the rapid progress being made.
“It is India’s duty to assist other countries, including countries in our neighborhood, in the collective fight against the virus,” Modi said in a statement.
The company is testing self-developed vaccine options, as well as working on trials of vaccines being developed overseas.
The Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine producer, has partnered with global players including AstraZeneca and Novavax Inc to run domestic trials on their vaccine candidates and produce vaccines, if they get approval.
Zydus Cadila is developing the original DNA-based vaccine, ZyCov-D, while privately owned Bharat Biotech is working on a vaccine candidate called COVAXIN in collaboration with the state-run Indian Medical Research Council.
India hopes to complete its final test on COVAXIN in a month or two, said health minister Harsh Vardhan earlier this month.
Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Edited by Euan Rocha and Christina Fincher