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PM reviews vaccine work in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune

AHMEDABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune to review coronavirus vaccine development work there.

The Prime Minister''s Office said the day-long visit was aimed at getting a first-hand perspective of the preparations, challenges and road map in India''s endeavour to vaccinate its citizens.

Modi began by visiting pharma major Zydus Cadila''s manufacturing facility near Ahmedabad. Wearing a PPE kit, he reviewed the vaccine development process at the company''s research centre, located over 20 km from Ahmedabad.

Modi was extensively briefed about the vaccine work at the plant by the company officials. He was briefed about the vaccine production procedure. He interacted with scientists and vaccine developers, an official said.

"Visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad to know more about the indigenous DNA based vaccine being developed by Zydus Cadila. I compliment the team behind this effort for their work. Government of India is actively working with them to support them in this journey," Modi tweeted after the visit.

Zydus Cadila chairman Pankaj Patel recently said the company is aiming to complete the vaccine trial by March 2021, and could produce up to 100 million doses a year.

Modi, who landed at Ahmedabad at 9.10 am, spent over an hour at the plant, before leaving for the airport, from where he left for Hyderabad at 11.40 am. Modi landed at Hakimpet Air Force station near Hyderabad around 1 pm and proceeded to pharma major Bharat Biotech''s vaccine manufacturing facility at Genome valley, located around 20 km from the air station, by road.

At the facility, he reviewed the progress of Covaxin, a vaccine candidate being developed by the company. He also interacted with Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella, scientists and senior management.

"At the Bharat Biotech facility in Hyderabad, was briefed about their indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. Congratulated the scientists for their progress in the trials so far. Their team is closely working with ICMR to facilitate speedy progress," Modi tweeted after his hour-long visit there.

After leaving the facility, Modi got down from his vehicle at the main gate and waved to media persons and the cheering crowd standing nearby.

Covaxin, being developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology, is undergoing phase-3 trials.

At 3.20 pm, Modi took off for Pune, where he landed at 4.30 pm on the last leg of his three-city vaccine work review visit. Modi then proceeded by helicopter to the campus of the Serum Institute of India (SII) at Manjari, located 17 km from the airport.

At the Serum Institute of India, Modi reviewed the progress of the ''Covishield'' vaccine being made there.

Modi interacted with scientists at the Serum Institute and had a walkabout of the facility, taking stock of vaccine development work being carried out there.

At the facility, Modi was received by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of Poonwalla Group, and his son and SII CEO Adar Poonawalla. They briefed Modi about the work being carried out at SII.

Modi interacted with the Poonawallas, scientists and other executives, who briefed him on the vaccine''s progress.

"Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility," Modi tweeted after his SII visit.

Serum Institute of India has partnered with global pharma giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University for the vaccine.

Modi left from SII for Pune airport around 6 pm and took off for Delhi at 6.25 pm, an official said.

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PTI