Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his three-city tour on Saturday with his visit to the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune where he undertook an extensive review of the COVID-19 vaccine and its progress. Prior to that, the Prime Minister visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad and Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad. On his visit to the three institutes, PM Modi was briefed on the progress of the vaccine to battle COVID-19 as India remains a forerunner in its production and distribution. 

Currently, the top vaccine candidates - Covaxin and Covishield - both are in the Phase 3 trials whereas Zydus Cadila is working on a DNA-based vaccine which commenced its Phase 2 clinical trials in August.

"The scientists expressed joy that the Prime Minister met them face to face in order to boost their morale and help accelerate their efforts at this critical juncture in the vaccine development journey. Prime Minister expressed pride in the fact that India’s indigenous vaccine development has progressed at such a rapid pace so far. He spoke on how India is following sound principles of science in the entire journey of vaccine development, while also asking for suggestions to make the vaccine distribution process better," the Prime Minister's Office said in an official release. 

"Prime Minister stressed that India considers vaccines as not only vital to good health but also as a global good, and it is India’s duty to assist other countries, including the nations in our neighbourhood, in the collective fight against the virus. He asked the scientists to express their free and frank opinion on how the country could further improve its regulatory process. The scientists also presented an overview of how they are also developing various new and repurposed drugs to better fight COVID-19," the release added. 

Meanwhile, earlier this week, PM Modi had said that in order to be administered to the Indian citizens, the COVID-19 vaccine will have to meet all necessary scientific criteria while emphasising that the government will have to work together at all levels to ensure that the vaccination drive remained smooth, systematic and sustained. While interacting with Chief Ministers of all states and UTs, PM Modi specified that as the vaccine research nears the final stages, it is essential for the government to closely monitor the development and maintain contacts with all stakeholders. He also discussed the modalities of COVID-19 vaccine delivery, distribution and administration process during the meeting. 

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