India is world leader in vaccines, has done great job in vaccinating children: Bill Gates

Vaccine
Bill Gates

NEW DELHI: Leading philanthropist and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, has said that India is a world leader in vaccines and investment is being made in the country for lots of new vaccines.

In an interview with ANI, Bill Gates also talked about India’s digital thrust, saying the idea of digital connections is flourishing with benefits in agriculture and other sectors.

“I’m certainly bullish. You know, the rate of improvement in a lot of the key areas is very, very strong. You know, everyone knows that in vaccines, India’s the world’s leader, so we’re investing with our partners here to come up with lots of new vaccines,” he said.

“A diagnostics industry has come out of some of the work in the pandemic, so we’re partnering there as well. This idea of digital connections that starts with Aadhaar and the bank accounts that you manage digitally, that’s flourishing. And so we see in agriculture now, they’re registering the farmers and giving them advance notice,” he added

Bill Gates, who is co-founder of Microsoft, said Indian leadership is something other countries should benefit from and talked about India’s remarks about the willingness to help others during the G20 Summit.

“We’re a partner with India. In fact, I spoke with the External Affairs Minister about what countries could we accelerate. They are getting some of these benefits that have been so incredible here in India,” he said.

Bill Gates talked about India’s role in ramping up vaccine production during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the case of COVID vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine, was available to any vaccine manufacturer. And in fact, it’s very impressive that we helped fund Serum (Institute of India) with USD 300 million. They did many things, but they took the AstraZeneca and got it into production very, very quickly. But that AstraZeneca vaccine was available to any manufacturer. And as long as it was sold at a low price, there was no… no fee involved whatsoever. And so that really was the pharmaceutical industry, both the West and India working together in an exemplary way,” he said.

He said Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is not connected with word population control and women should have the choice to make their decisions.

“We do think that women who want family planning tools, they should be available. And so our work is just when there’s that demand, how do you make it lower cost? How do you make it more convenient? How do you reduce the side effects? There’s been great progress in helping women who want to use those tools have them available. So you don’t think that those are connected? Population control, lower birth rate and development and gender justice, more rights for women, women’s health? Well, women should be able to choose. Do they want to have a lot of children or very few children? It turns out as countries get rich, on average, women choose to have less children. They enter the workforce more. They put more attention per child,” he said.

“But those are completely voluntary decisions that it’s great. They should have as many as they want or as few as they want,” he added.

Bill Gates lauded India’s vaccination initiatives that have helped, among other things, to bring down child mortality.

“They’ve adopted a lot of new vaccines and they’ve done a great job getting them out to all the kids in the country. So, under five mortalities is a third of what it was at the turn of the century, which was when we first started to work here. So, you know, one third as many children die before the age of five. And the work on vaccines is a big, big part of why India’s seen that improvement,” he said. (ANI)

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