NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday the nation would continue to export medicines, including vaccines, as companies have ramped up production.
The country, with the highest number of infections in the world after the United States, is developing two indigenous COVID-19 vaccines.
“The world is not only waiting for India’s vaccines but is also keenly watching how India handles the world’s biggest vaccination program,” Modi said in an annual address to the overseas Indians.
“Being the biggest pharmacy of the world, India had supplied medicines to the needy across the globe in the past and it is doing it today as well.”
India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker. Its pharmaceutical industry has been freeing up capacity and pushing ahead with investments to help support a global vaccination campaign.
Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan earlier this month said there was no ban on vaccine exports, following media reports that the government had imposed restrictions to ensure domestic vaccine requirements were met first.
The country is set to roll out a COVID-19 vaccination programme, aiming to cover 300 million people by July in one of the world’s largest inoculation drives against the coronavirus.
Modi said India used to import protective equipment kits, masks, ventilators and testing kits but today the nation is not only self-reliant but also exporting some of these products.
India on Saturday reported 18,222 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, taking its total to 10.43 million, health ministry data showed.
COVID-19 infections are decreasing in India, which saw a daily peak of nearly 98,000 cases in September.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by William Mallard)