New Delhi [India], March 17 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said he was proud to have taken 'Covaxin' and recalled that questions were raised when the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech came to the market earlier this year.
The minister, who responded to comments of members after his statement regarding 'India's Vaccine Maitri Initiative' in the Rajya Sabha, said the members had expressed their appreciation for the work done by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII).
Bharat Biotech manufactures Covaxin, which it has developed in collaboration with ICMR. SII produces the Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
"I note the deep appreciation of Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute. I faintly recall where questions were raised when the Covaxin came into the market. Many people perhaps don't wish to remember it now. I am proud to say that I got vaccinated from Covaxin," Jaishankar said.
The minister referred to the strong pursual of 'Make in India' programme by the government which also resulted in India-made vaccines being produced for the country and being exported to several other countries in the world.
He said that the opposition members were indirectly praising the 'Vaccine Maitri' initiative of the government.
"You will recall the saying that success has many fathers. I am delighted to say that so many fathers are claiming success. And I take it as a statement that they really want to praise the Vaccine Maitri initiative except they are about it in a roundabout way. So it is done in good spirits," he said.
"I also take this as an affirmation of the Make in India programme which this government has pursued so strongly and with such great focus," he added.
Covishield and Covaxin were given emergency use authorisation in January this year and the government launched the vaccination initiative on January 16.
Congress leader Anand Sharma appreciated the Vaccine Maitri initiative.
"We take note of the countries that have been reached and the bridges that have been built and the trust generated because of this initiative," he said.
"It would be important that we not only acknowledge and appreciate but place on record the contribution of our institution built over decades after independence including the ICMR, Institute of Integrated Biology," he added.
Congress member Jairam Ramesh said that the roots of the post-2014 success lie in the foundation that was laid before 2014.
"I want to mention only three aspects to it. We became the pharmacy of the world. How? We had a Patent's Act 1970 that recognised only processed patents and not product patents. And that led to an upsurge of Indian entrepreneurship in the pharmaceutical industry. Then we had FERA (The Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973) which diluted the equity stakeholding of the multinational companies and allowed the Indian pharmaceutical industries to emerge. And third, we had a huge investment in science and technology. We made research laboratories across the country - publicly funded, public institutions which created enormous success," he said.
The Congress member said a crucial element of the Covaxin was developed at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology in Hyderabad, which is a publicly funded organisation in existence for nearly six decades.
"And Bharat Biotech itself owes its origin to the Department of Biotechnology that was established in 1986 and the Technology Development Board that was established in 1996. So while we pat ourselves in the back for being the pharmacy of the world and being major vaccine manufacturer, let us recognise there has been a lot of continuity in these policies and the foundation that has been laid over the last few decades has led to a situation where we can take pride in our situation," he said. (ANI)