The race to find a vaccine against COVID19 and other therapeutics continues, as the number of positive cases and fatalities rise. Most developed economies across the world are aiming to provide equitable access to safe and effective COVID19 vaccine.

Indian pharma companies too have formed strategic partnerships with global players. Serum Institute of India (SII) has entered a contract with the University of Oxford, UK and AstraZeneca to manufacture 1 billion doses of the vaccine candidate currently under development. Apart from this, SII also inked contracts with 2 other global biotech companies - Novovax (Maryland) and Codagenix (New York). Similarly, Biologicals E has signed up with Janssen Pharmaceutica, Belgium. Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila, Panacea Biotec, Indian Immunologicals, Mynvax are some other domestic pharma firms are also working on a COVID19 vaccine.

Indian pharmaceutical industry is highly dependent on imports. More than 60% of its active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) are being imported currently. The dependence is as high as 80-90% in case of cephalosporins, azithromycin and penicillin. Of the total imports of APIs and drug intermediates, China accounts for 65-70%. Government of India recently launched schemes for the development of drug parks across the country. The Union Minister of Chemical and Fertilizers, D V Sadananda Gowda informed the Parliament that the government has prepared two schemes for promoting domestic manufacturing of bulk drugs to reduce the country's dependence on imports of various API from China. The new schemes are expected to attract substantial investments, increase domestic production of KSMs, DIs, and APIs, and reduce the country's import dependence to a large extent.

The impact of fatal COVID-19 on the domestic pharma industry was recently deliberated in the Lok Sabha. Minister D V Sadananda Gowda has invited Latin American and Caribbean countries to invest in the Indian pharma sector, stating that it could grow to become a $65 billion industry by 2024. The Minister was confident that India could well replace China as the world's factory.

Indian pharma companies are keen on emerging markets for increased growth and business. Zydus Cadila, Hetero Drugs, Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Ackerman Pharma, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals and Torrent Pharmaceuticals would be setting up manufacturing facilities in Hidalgo, making Mexico their production and logistics hub.

Governments across the globe seem to have at least recognised the value of research.

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