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    New Delhi: India committed to accessibility of vaccines for all: S&T Minister

    New Delhi: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh on Friday emphasised that India is committed to ensuring accessibility and affordability of vaccines for all. Addressing the Seventh Annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals of UN, he noted that India has been strongly advocating for the principle of equity in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and has also proposed, along with South Africa, a TRIPS waiver at the WTO for COVID vaccines, diagnostics, and medicines. He said, India is working actively with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), WHO, and the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to realise this goal.

    The Multi-Stakeholder Forum this year is focussing on Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) for building back better from the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Pointing out that the enormous power of digital and information technology has been a key component of global response to COVID, he recalled that India had shared with the world, India-developed Co-WIN App, to provide digital support to better organise vaccination drives. India has long been fostering STI and nurturing an enabling ecosystem to incubate and scale revolutionary ideas, help improve the quality of lives of people and provide solutions to global problems. This has become even more crucial in the current scenario, he added.

    Referring to the global effort to overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic in the last two years, Dr Jitendra Singh observed that India has emerged as a member of leading international scientific coalitions in vaccine research. “Our scientific community, along with the support of a robust pharmaceutical industry, have been successful in developing and producing safe, effective, and affordable vaccines, including the world’s first DNA based vaccine”, the Minister asserted.

    He cautioned the members that the current data on COVID-19 cases demonstrates that humankind is still far from a post-pandemic world and called for meaningful partnership by pooling resources and sharing knowledge. He said, science, technology, and innovation cooperation with a spirit of collaboration is a key to accelerate the collective response to COVID-19 and towards sustainable development and reiterated that STI should become an inclusive and equitable tool for SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) delivery based on affordable, accessible and available technological innovation. Dr Jitendra Singh said, Technology-driven creative business models and service delivery have a vast potential to fast-track the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals in a cost-effective, transparent, and inclusive manner. However, there was also a need to facilitate access to technology for developing countries to tackle challenges related to sustainable development. 

    In India, science and technology have become a vital tool in the post-pandemic recovery as the country builds back better. It is bridging the digital divide by leveraging technology solutions that are low cost, developmental and designed to empower all citizens, especially women. Today the number of Internet users in the villages has exceeded that of the cities and public services and last mile delivery are linked to digital platforms. All these have contributed to advancing the achievement of SDGs, the Minister added. Concluding, Dr Jitendra Singh said, in the spirit of South-South Cooperation, India is collaborating with the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and UN’s Interagency Task Team (IATT) in supporting pilot countries from Africa and other developing world in formulating and implementing their Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development Goals roadmaps.

    Initiate News Agency (INA), New Delhi

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