PM meets COVID-19 healthcare task force

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on May 4 reviewed the progress of India’s ongoing efforts in vaccine development, drug discovery, diagnosis and testing to tackle the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

May 5, 2020

The review by the PM Modi took note of the joint COVID-19 initiatives of academia, industry, and government

At least four drugs are currently undergoing synthesis and examination for Coronavirus across India

Indian scientists and researchers are presently developing new candidate drugs, molecules for Coronavirus

Several research institutions have developed new tests, both for the RT-PCR approach and for antibody detection

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on May 5 reviewed the progress of India’s ongoing efforts in vaccine development, drug discovery, diagnosis, and testing to tackle the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The review by the PM took note of the joint COVID-19 initiatives of academia, industry, and government. He said that the coordination and efficiency achieved during the pandemic should be embedded in the standard operating procedure of scientific activities. This will ensure India’s progress in scientific R&D and next-gen manufacturing, on the way to establishing a future-ready economy.  

Right now, more than 30 Indian Coronavirus vaccine candidates are in different stages of development, with a few going on to the trial stages. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is the 3rd largest in the world by volume and the largest provider of generic drugs globally. It also supplies over 50 per cent of global demand for various vaccines. Backed by a large pool of scientists and engineers as well as favourable infrastructure, resources, and policies, India is well placed to cater to the pressing need for Coronavirus medication. Additionally, Indian academia and startups are working in Coronavirus medication. 

Simultaneously, at least four drugs are currently undergoing synthesis and examination for Coronavirus. Meanwhile, the development of new candidate drugs and molecules are being driven by linking high-performance computational approaches with laboratory verification. Plant extracts and products are also being examined for general anti-viral properties. Alongside these efforts, India has been exporting key drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, The antimalarial drug, thought to be a solution for COVID-19, has been delivered to around 55 countries spanning Malaysia to the United States. 

In diagnosis and testing, several academic research institutions and startups have developed new tests, both for the RT-PCR approach and for antibody detection. Besides, by linking laboratories all over the country, capacity for both these kinds of tests have been enormously scaled up. The problem of importing reagents for testing has been addressed by consortia of Indian startups and industry. The current thrust also holds promise for the development of a robust long-term industry in this area.