New Delhi: The administration of more than 181 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses has contributed to India's success in the management of the third wave, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Monday.
He said the country presented an exemplary model of Covid management with the Centre and states working in unison in a federal democracy.
India's COVID-19 management is a story of "leadership, innovation, dedication, partnership, sharing and leveraging technology", Mandaviya said in his keynote address at the 'Aksha - Lessons from India', an event organised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation here.
The event was organised to take key lessons and share experiences and best practices from India's COVID-19 management and vaccination journey.
The minister said, "India presented an exemplary model of Covid management with Centre and states working in unison in a federal democracy. Jan Andolan and Jan Bhagidari are key pillars of India's Covid management strategy."
Mandaviya reminded the audience that several studies had made ill-informed predictions and assumptions on the impact of the pandemic in the country but "India's political leadership took decisive actions at crucial times in a strategic manner by learning from and amalgamating best global practices with our own approach to manage the pandemic".
Appreciating the contribution of healthcare workers in the fight against the pandemic, Mandaviya applauded their motivation and dedication. In this context, the minister also highlighted the innovative ways in which the prime minister encouraged them to contribute their best.
On the government's efforts in controlling the pandemic, Mandaviya said that it was a "joint effort by multitude stakeholders like NGOs, CSOs (civil society organisations), industry, development partners".
"Administration of more than 181 crore Covid vaccine doses has contributed to our success in management of third surge," he said. He underscored the fact that "despite the huge diversity of geographies and population, India demonstrated how a huge vaccination drive can be mounted at scale".
Mandaviya also stated that in keeping with Indian ethos and tradition, the country supplied COVID-19 vaccines to the world "even before our own vaccine requirement was fully met."
He also added that "we did not exhibit any arrogant behaviour but shared what India produced. We have provided medicines such as HCQ to many countries. We did not compromise on quality or bargain with the price."
The minister further said that "India's success story presents takeaway for other countries to emulate, just as we are always open to learning from global best practices." Country heads and representatives from development partners such as WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, USAID, ADB and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) were present at the meet.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted that the Union government acted on a proactive mode since the onset of the pandemic to address the various challenges of vaccine roll-out across the country, vaccine production as well as vaccine hesitancy among the people.
He highlighted that India has already covered 96 per cent of India's 15-plus population with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Rodrigo Ofrin, Country Director, WHO, outlined the sheer number of people, vaccination centres, cold chains and other associated networks employed in the mammoth vaccination exercise across India.
He praised the country's vaccine manufacturing capability, stating that "India is already a vaccine superpower in the world as over 70 per cent vaccines for various antigens in the world are manufactured in India".
Shoko Noda, UNDP Resident Representative, said that India's vaccination drive is "unparalleled" across the world. She further said that India's vaccination success story is a reflection of the commitment and dynamism displayed by the leadership of the country towards meeting the challenge of the pandemic.
Yasumasa Kimura, Deputy UNICEF India Representative, congratulated India for the world's largest vaccination drive. He said that India's vaccination model has been very important in defining the global trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anjali Kaur, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia, USAID, underlined that India's mammoth vaccination exercise served as a model for other countries.
Takeo Konishi, Country Director, Asian Development Bank, noted that despite huge geographical, cultural and political challenges, India has demonstrated a roadmap to the world on overcoming numerous challenges.
Dr Chris Elias, President, BMGF, appreciated India's remarkable achievements and incredible efforts towards managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, "Innovation is a regulatory decision to balance speed with safety with respect to vaccines, which India has taken promptly and proactively. It has developed CoWIN as a public good, which can be used elsewhere also to increase the delivery pace of vaccines."