Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has praised India for its vaccine-manufacturing prowess and applauded the efforts of the country’s manufacturers for supplying affordable vaccines across the world.
Addressing a virtual roundtable on India-US Health Partnership organised by the Indian embassy on Tuesday, Gates noted that over the last year, India has delivered over 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 100 countries. “At the same time, thanks to Indian vaccine manufacturers, almost every country in the world now is offering vaccines to protect children from diseases such Pneumonia and Rotavirus, which have been leading causes of child’s deaths for decades, Gates said.
The roundtable was organised to bring together key stakeholders in India and US for leveraging the bilateral partnership to make affordable vaccines available to the world. While this pandemic isn’t yet over, we have begun to look beyond the emergency response. This means not only controlling Covid but also being ready to stop future outbreaks before they become pandemics and continuing to fight all the infectious diseases, he explained.
In his remarks, Gates said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has talked about deepening India’s commitment to global health by continuing to harness the country’s science and technology talent to advance scientific discovery and the creation of new products. This is a shared ambition and partnerships are central to making it a reality, he said.
Gates said that the three vaccines — Covaxin, Corbavex and Covishield – were the products of partnerships that bridge sectors as well as borders. The Quad country partnership with Bio E. to produce over a billion vaccines is an example of how these partnerships can be scaled up to support an equitable response, he said, referring to the four-nation grouping of the US, India, Australia and Japan.
Noting that risks of COVID-19 had ‘dramatically reduced’, Gates warned that it was almost certain that the world will see another pandemic, for which collaborations between vaccine manufacturers was the need of the hour. This is what makes initiatives like the developing country’s vaccine manufacturers networks so exciting. Everyone involved understands that if we want to make COVID-19 the last pandemic, we need to invest now in collaborative efforts, Gates said.
We can’t predict where the advances to give us better tools will come from, but we do know that our investments today will determine whether these advances come on time and whether they are ready to reach everyone who needs them, he added.