On 5th June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the country commemorating World Environment Day via video-conferencing. PM released the “Report of the Expert Committee on Road Map for ethanol blending in India 2020-2025”. PM Modi further addressed the nation about the nationwide vaccination drive.
He mentioned, “Previously India had to wait decades to receive an invention from across the world. But now things have changed, with the help of Indian scientists, India is advancing in the scientific field side by side with other nations. This way India is helping mankind to evolve from the COVID-19 catastrophe. Indian scientists have worked restlessly towards the invention of COVID vaccination in India. This is the first time India has come up with its own vaccine within one year of the emergence of coronavirus. The same vaccine has been made available to Indian citizens. Along with that, India for the first time has also exported its homemade vaccines to other countries in need of it as well.”
COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan in late 2019. The world has been trying to recover from the stroke of COVID once and for all. While India is still trying to overcome the ongoing 2nd wave of COVID infections, many other countries are going through the 3rd wave.
Over decades of studies and inventions to face deadly diseases, vaccinations are proven to be effective and cost-efficient for survival. Scientists believe that the sufferings of Coronavirus can be torn down by introducing effective and pocket-friendly vaccination. There are about 6-7 vaccines available in the world as a whole, 2 such vaccines Covishield and Covaxin are both home-grown vaccines that are developed in India.
India has exported the Indian vaccines to its neighbouring countries in grave need of them. Bangladesh topping the list with around 103 lakhs vaccines exported from India. Other neighbouring nations like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Myanmar have received vaccines from India. Even countries like Brazil, Morocco have also received doses of Covishield and Covaxin from India.
There was a time when it took decades for a vaccine to reach India. But now India is standing up on its own feet and developing vaccines for itself and other countries. This evolution of India from being dependent on other countries to being self-dependent must be applauded.
The History of vaccination in India
The first-ever vaccination was discovered in 1798 for smallpox. Smallpox was referred to by historians as the “Indian Plague”. In 1802, India documented its first smallpox vaccination through vaccine lymph that had arrived in India.
It was not until 1850, India was able to import these vaccines from Great Britain as there were challenges in transportation. Due to these challenges, India faced a shortage of vaccines or lymph. To overcome these challenges, India had to adopt the alternative of manufacturing the vaccines or lymph on Indian land.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, India witnessed an outbreak of cholera and plague. Manufacture of these vaccines was being produced in the country. By the early 20th century, vaccines for smallpox, cholera, plague, and typhoid were available in the country.
During Independence, India reported a maximum number of smallpox cases in the world. Vaccinations were extended to schools in all states, to reduce the number of smallpox cases. Vaccination drives and campaigns were held to spread awareness about the benefits of being vaccinated.
However, India continued to be a late receiver of vaccinations in the world.
The table below gives us a brief idea about when major vaccines were introduced in India. We can see that it has taken over decades for India to receive vaccines that were invented in other countries.
Serum Institute Pvt Ltd, 1966
Dr Cyrus Poonawalla found the Serum Institute of India in 1966 to manufacture life-saving immuno-biologicals, which were in shortage in the country and imported at high prices. Thereafter, several life-saving biologicals were manufactured at prices affordable to the common man and in abundance, so the country was made self-sufficient.
Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd. is now the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by several doses produced and sold globally (more than 1.5 billion doses) which includes Polio vaccine as well as Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccines. The institute is currently developing the Covishield vaccine in the country.
(Source: Serum Institute official website)
Bharat Biotech Pvt Ltd, 1996
Bharat Biotech started operations in 1996—the year Dr. Krishna M. Ella and Mrs. Suchitra Ella. In the years that followed, Mr. Ella assembled a team of bright scientists and led the creation of path-breaking vaccines. Today, Bharat Biotech has over 160 patents.
Covaxin, India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by Bharat Biotech is developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).
(Source: Bharat Biotech official website)
On May 1, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) approved a drug called 2-deoxy-d-glucose (2-DG) for emergency use among people with moderate and severe COVID-19, to help manage the disease.
Researchers at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine jointly developed this drug and Allied Sciences, which falls under the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), and the pharmaceutical giant Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) was established in 1956, as a Radiation Cell at Defence Science Laboratory, Delhi to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
(Source: DRDO official website)
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