India to expand genome sequencing network to neighborhood: PM Modi at world summit
With genomic surveillance playing a crucial role in tracking new variants of novel coronavirus concerns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Thursday that India’s genomic sequencing network would be extended to neighboring countries.
Delivering his remarks at the opening session of the second Virtual Global Covid Summit, Modi announced that the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (Insacog), a national multi-agency consortium of genome sequencing laboratories created in December 2020, would soon be extended to neighboring countries.
Insacog was established to expand whole genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus across India with the aim of understanding how the virus spreads and evolves. Any modification of the genetic code or mutation of the virus can be observed based on the analysis and sequencing of the samples carried out in the laboratories under Insacog.
“India has developed low-cost mitigation technologies for testing, processing and data management. We have offered these capabilities to other countries. The Indian Genomics Consortium has contributed significantly to the global virus database. I am happy to share that we are going to extend this network to countries in our neighborhood,” Modi said.
At the summit, Modi said a coordinated global response was needed to tackle future health emergencies and that the World Health Organization needed to be reformed. “It is clear that a coordinated global response is needed to tackle future health emergencies. We need to build a resilient global supply chain and enable access to vaccines and medicines. WTO (World Trade Organization) rules, in particular TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), need to be more flexible. The WHO must be reformed and strengthened to build a more resilient global health security architecture,” he said.
Stating that India is leading the biggest vaccination campaign in the world, Modi said there was a need to streamline the WHO approval process for vaccines and treatments. “We also call for the streamlining of the WHO approval process for vaccines and therapeutics to maintain supply chain stability and predictability. As a responsible member of the global community, India stands ready to play a key role in these efforts,” he said.
“Our vaccination program is the largest in the world. We have fully vaccinated almost 90% of the adult population and over 50 million children. India manufactures four WHO-approved vaccines and has the capacity to produce 5 billion doses this year. We have provided over 200 million doses to 98 countries bilaterally and through Covax (of the United Nations),” Modi said.
My remarks at the 2nd World Summit on Covid. https://t.co/8nKe1Dkbp8
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 12, 2022
Modi also highlighted the use of traditional medicine in the country to boost immunity. “In India, we are using our traditional medicine extensively to complement our fight against Covid and to boost immunity, saving countless lives. Last month, we laid the foundations of the WHO Center for Traditional Medicine in India with the aim of making this knowledge available to the world,” he said.
“The Covid pandemic continues to disrupt lives and supply chains and test the resilience of open societies. In India, we have adopted a people-centered strategy against the pandemic. We have made the highest ever allocation to the annual health budget,” the prime minister said.
Modi took part in the second virtual global Covid summit at the invitation of US President Joe Biden. The summit intends to galvanize new actions to address the lingering challenges of the pandemic and build a stronger global health security architecture.