Over the last few decades, India has made huge strides to emerge as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The country has seen an immense improvement in the number and quality of its healthcare facilities, reduction in pregnancy-related deaths, improvement in sanitation and immunisation coverage and has successfully averted several preventable disease epidemics.
Our tremendously talented pool of doctors, researchers and virologists have led the country’s response against the COVID-19 pandemic from the front. These researchers and innovators have shown the way forward by introducing low-cost diagnostics and testing kits, manufacturing PPE kits, masks & therapeutics and now conducting clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine. The clinical trial for the vaccine – developed by the Oxford University and produced by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D – has entered the final phase.
India’s pioneering achievements in biotechnology is the primary reason why the sector employs the best of minds and contributes to the development of generic and affordable medicare. The country accounts for approximately 3 per cent of the global biotech industry. Industry enterprise, a highly-skilled research force backed by government support, has led the biotechnology sector to grow from $1.1 billion in 2003 to a mammoth $64 billion sector in 2019. While these are laudable accomplishments, the government acknowledges the need for the sector’s continuous transformation and growth. We already have over 2,700 biotech start-ups and are expected to touch the 10,000-mark by 2024. Over 3,500 biotech companies generate employment, contribute to the country’s economy and facilitate a sustainable environment. By 2025, we aim to be worth a $150 billion industry.
India has played a very important role in global health and innovation. The pandemic has provided the country with an opportunity to play the lead role in a global biotech ecosystem. It is time to build on our existing strengths and enter the next stage — from being the pharmacy of the world to being the hub of cutting-edge innovation and research. This is just the beginning. The next decade will be ours.