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New Delhi : Union Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare Minister  Dr Harsh Vardhan on December 7, 2020, informed the DST-CII India Portugal Technology Summit 2020, a flagship event with Portugal as a partner country, that in India, about 30 vaccines are in different stages of development.

” Two of them are in the most advanced stage of development – COVAXIN developed through ICMR-Bharat Biotech collaboration and COVISHIELD from the Serum Institute of India. Both are in the Phase-III clinical trial stage. Our premier institution – the Indian Council of Medical Research – is involved in their trial executions. India is also hosting clinical trials for all the major vaccine contenders. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is conducting trials for the vaccine developed by Oxford University. ZydusCadila is also conducting Ph2 trial of an indigenous DNA Vaccine. One of our pharma giants, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, will distribute the Russian vaccine in India after conducting final-stage human trials and receiving regulatory approval,” Dr Vardhan said, according to a PIB release.

The Minister disclosed that India is among the top ten countries in the world with respect to number of patents filed. Highlighting India’s efforts to fight the challenge of COVID, he said “More than 100 start-ups supported by the Government have provided innovative products and solutions to overcome challenges posed by Covid-19.”

Dr Vardhan stated,” The Summit is a reflection of the effective partnership between the Government and industry for developing a robust technology ecosystem for the country.” The Minister said, “The next iteration of this collaboration will be to encourage new solutions based on cutting edge technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.”

He dwelt on India-Portugal relations in various fields over long years. Dr Vardhan expressed the hope that the interactions offer a good opportunity for the participating companies to explore prospects for bilateral investments across sectors such as healthcare, water, agriculture, energy and Information Technologies.

Prof. Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Government of Portugal, who was the Guest of Honour, delivered the  Keynote Address. He said, “ These are times of solidarity. Our ties with India are strong. We need to rely on knowledge to be out of this crisis together.”

The objectives of this summit are : a) Forge partnerships; b) Boost innovation, investment & trade and c) Facilitate technology transfers, joint projects and market access.