In response to COVID-19 pandemic, India has put to use its significant scientific calibre, says Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences. He said from the development of indigenous vaccines, novel point-of-care diagnostics and therapeutic formulations based on traditional knowledge, to establishing research resources, the Indian R&D entities have been working relentlessly to develop effective interventions for combating the pandemic.
Speaking at the First Virtual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Young Scientist Conclave, Dr Vardhan pointed out that more than 100 startups have provided innovative products and solutions to tackle COVID-19. He said the Indian government had announced US$ 12 crore grant for COVID-19 vaccine research. “This is being provided for COVIDSuraksha Mission (mission for protection from COVID) and is to be used purely for research and development in this field,” the minister said. “Innovation is the key driver for enhancing productivity and prosperity. India has emerged a hub for start-ups and innovation. Indian youngsters have distinguished themselves due to their futuristic and out-of-the-box thinking.”
Dr Vardhan said to give young talent opportunities and leadership in challenging areas of science, the government has established five specialized research laboratories. He elaborated that each lab deals with a focused area of science – artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, cognitive technologies, asymmetric technologies and smart materials. In regards to traditional medicine, the minister said a Working Group on Traditional Medicine has been proposed so that the knowledge of traditional and ancient medicine is spread across SCO countries and the headway in contemporary medicine can complement each other. “The growth of SCO depends on its success in science, technology and innovation sector. There is a need to transform this landscape,” he said.
The minister urged young scientists to come forward and join hands for developing solutions for the common societal challenges including the current COVID-19 pandemic.