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More pharma firms should be allowed to make vaccine: Gadkari

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday suggested that more pharma companies should be allowed to make the COVID-19 vaccine in the country during the pandemic to scale up production.

Addressing Vice Chancellors of Universities in India virtually, Gadkari said he will also request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring a law for allowing more pharma companies to manufacture life-saving drugs by paying 10 percent royalty to the patent holder of the drug.

“If the demand of vaccine is more than its supply, then it creates a problem. So, instead of one company, 10 more companies should be allowed to make vaccines by paying 10 percent royalty to the original patent holder of the vaccine,” he said.

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Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had written to the Prime Minister, saying the Centre should share the vaccine formula of the two manufacturers with other capable pharmaceutical companies to scale up production in the country.

There are two vaccine makers in the country currently — Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India — which are manufacturing Covaxin and Covishield, respectively. These two firms can be given royalty from the profit of other companies for the use of their original formulas, Kejriwal had said.

Only three vaccines have so far been approved to be sold in India — Covaxin, Coveshield, and Sputnik V.

Sputnik V has been approved to be imported from Russia by Dr Reddy’s but is yet to be widely available in the country.

The road transport and highways minister lamented that India still has to import raw material for making medicines.

“We want to make Atmanirbhar Bharat…All districts of India should be self-reliant for medical oxygen,” he said, adding that India’s health sector is facing a deep crisis.

“We should try to remain positive and self-confident during the pandemic,” he noted.

India’s COVID-19 death toll climbed to 2,78,719, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.

The country reported 2,63,533 new cases in a span of 24 hours, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,52,28,996.

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