Bill Gates hails India’s key role in COVID-19 vaccine

By B N Kumar

NEW DELHI, May 15, 2020: Bill Gates says India’s role is key as the world works to minimize social and economic impact, and pave the way to vaccine, testing, and treatment access for all.

Bill, who has a video conference call with Prime Minister Modi, tweeted that combating the pandemic requires global collaboration.

Modi said in his tweet that he had an extensive interaction with @BillGates. “We discussed issues ranging from India’s efforts to fight Coronavirus, work of the in battling COVID-19, role of technology, innovation and producing a vaccine to cure the pandemic.”

Some of the ideas that the dignitaries explored in this context included drawing upon India’s unique model of last-mile health service delivery in rural areas, dissemination of the effective contact-tracing mobile app developed by Government of India, and above all by leveraging India’s massive pharmaceutical capacity to scale-up the production of vaccines and therapeutics upon their discovery.   They agreed that given India’s willingness and capacity to contribute to global efforts, particularly for benefit of fellow developing countries, it was important for India to be included in the ongoing global discussions for coordinating responses to the pandemic.

During his conversation, Modi suggested that the Gates Foundation could take the lead in analysing the necessary changes in lifestyles, economic organisation, social behaviour, modes of disseminating education and healthcare that would emerge in the post-COVID world, and the associated technological challenges that would need to be addressed.   He said that India would be happy to contribute to such an analytical exercise, based on its own experiences

The Prime Minister underlined the conscious approach that India has adopted in its fight against the health crisis - an approach based on ensuring public engagement through appropriate messaging.  He explained how this people-centric bottom-up approach has helped win acceptability for physical distancing, respect for front-line workers, wearing of masks, maintaining proper hygiene, and respecting lockdown provisions. 

The Prime Minister appreciated the health related work being done by the Gates Foundation not only in India but also in many other parts of the world, including for coordinating global response to COVID-19.   He sought suggestions from Gates on how India’s capacities and capabilities could be better leveraged for the general benefit of the world.