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India's Modi visits key vaccine facilities as COVID-19 case load surges

India's Modi visits key vaccine facilities as COVID-19 case load surges

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured the manufacturing facility of the Serum Institute of India on Nov 28, 2020. (Photo: Twitter/Narendra Modi)

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured three of the nation's leading vaccine development and manufacturing sites on Saturday (Nov 28) as coronavirus case counts continue to soar.

India has recorded 9.35 million COVID-19 infections, second only to the United States. It reported 41,322 new cases and 485 deaths on Saturday.

The western state of Maharashtra - home to India's financial hub, Mumbai - has been particularly hard hit by the virus. Its tally of 1.68 million cases is higher than countries such as Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting with the Serum Institute of India on Nov 28, 2020. (Photo: Twitter/Narendra Modi)

Modi conducted a whirlwind three-city tour and visited the Zydus Cadila facility in the western city of Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech's facilities in the southern hub of Hyderabad and the Serum Institute of India's sprawling campus in the western city of Pune.

READ: India says local COVID-19 vaccine final trials could end within two months

In a series of tweets, Modi congratulated the scientists on their progress and assured them of his government's support.

The companies are testing homegrown vaccine options, as well as working on trials of vaccines being developed overseas.

Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has partnered global players including AstraZeneca and Novavax Inc to run domestic trials on their vaccine candidates and produce the vaccines, if they secure approvals.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited three leading vaccine development and manufacturing sites on Nov 28, 2020. (Photo: Twitter/Narendra Modi)

READ: Pharma firm in India to make Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine

Zydus Cadila is developing an indigenous DNA-based vaccine, ZyCov-D, while privately-held Bharat Biotech is working on a vaccine candidate called COVAXIN in a tie-up with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

India hopes to complete final trials on COVAXIN in a month or two, health minister Harsh Vardhan said earlier this month.

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Source: Reuters/gs

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