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'I was unaware of govt efforts': Nitin Gadkari after suggestion to let more firms make Covid vaccines

Gadkari said he was unaware that the Centre had alreay started these efforts before he had given a suggestion yesterday. "This is what Dr Manmohan Singh had suggested on April 18th. But is his Boss listening," asks Congress' Jairam Ramesh

Union minister Nitin Gadkari Union minister Nitin Gadkari

After Union minister Nitin Gadkari sparked a controversy over the huge demand for vaccines against production in the country, he clarified today saying he was unaware of the fact that the Centre is already facilitating vaccine manufacturing by 12 different plants or companies.

He had suggested during an address to vice-chancellors of universities in India on Tuesday that the government should issue multiple companies licences to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines. "If vaccine demand is more than supply it creates the problem. Instead of 1, let 10 more companies be given licenses for vaccine manufacture...Let them supply in the country and later if there's a surplus, they may export. It can be done in 15-20 days," he said during a seminar.

 

Also read: 'Give licence to 10 more vaccine makers, instead of only one,' says Nitin Gadkari

Gadkari said today that while participating at the conference, he suggested ramping up vaccine production. "I was unaware that before my speech Minister for Chemical & Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya had explained the government's efforts to ramp up vaccine production," he added.

Gadkari said after the conference, Mandaviya also informed him that the Centre is already facilitating vaccine manufacturing by 12 different plants or companies and a rapid ramp-up of production is expected in near future. "I was unaware that his ministry had started these efforts before I had given a suggestion yesterday. I am glad and congratulate him and his team for this timely intervention in the right direction. I feel it is important to put this on record," said the minister.

The Congress party, meanwhile, has taken a dig at the Union minister, saying is his government listening? Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted: "This is what Dr Manmohan Singh had suggested on April 18th. But is his Boss listening?"

 

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on April 18 had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the COVID-19 crisis, stressing that ramping up vaccination was the key to battling the pandemic. He also said any vaccine cleared by credible drug regulatory bodies like the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the US Food and Drug Administration should be allowed to be imported into India.

The vaccine shortage issues have marred the phase 3 vaccination process in India, with several states halting the vaccination for 18-44 groups. India so far has three approved vaccines, including Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. Russia's Sputnik has also been rolled out in India but the vaccine is not widely available as yet.

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