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India would be an engine of global growth, help revive global economy significantly: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said investment in health is going to be critical, not just to keep lives safer, but also to make health and health-related expenditures more predictable.

December 18, 2020 / 09:58 PM IST
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

India would be the engine of global growth, along with a few other countries, contributing to the revival of the global economy in a significant way, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at the CII Partnership Summit on December 18.

"I'm not saying we'll be the only ones, but will be a significant contributor to the global economic revival. We owe it to the humanity that we all put our heads together, pan up something and come up with a budget which can play its role in reviving India," Sitharaman said.

The finance minister said India would be having its first budget soon post a pandemic, which makes it necessary to have a budget in sync with the changing needs of the time. She said investment in health is going to be critical, not just to keep lives safer, but also to make health and health-related expenditures more predictable.

"And therefore in the health sector, more funding for infrastructure, bringing a private partnership for it, not just providing buildings of hospitals, but also providing the capacities to run these hospitals... So if looking at health itself... you're looking at what are the kind of things you can provide the patient, inclusive of technology-driven advices, expert consultations. And so on the other end is to create such soft capacities of  doctors, specialists, nurses, paramedics, so that there is a constant flow," the minister said.

Sitharaman also said a good example of the government's policy push of an Atmanirbhar Bharat would be the capacity India has shown to produce vaccines, to manufacture the formulation that the vaccine developers have given.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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She said India would be in a position to not just manufacture those vaccines formulated in India, but also to receive the right to produce vaccines which are developed elsewhere not just for the Indian market but also to supply to the world.

"We have to have the capacity in India, we should scale up the capacity in India. We should be able to produce things that the world wants as much as we want. And therefore build up on those capacities... And where we do not have the capacities, get your imports, produce certain commodities and services, and export them and be a part of the value chain further on," Sitharaman said.

She said India is not shutting itself to look inwards and it isn't stopping all imports. "Where we do not have the strengths, we would certainly like to benefit from the strengths that exist elsewhere," Sitharaman said.
Kamalika Ghosh

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