The scientific community rose to the occasion when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country and conducted research that was not traditionally their domain to meet the needs of the country, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said March 1.
Inaugurating the second edition of Global Bio-India-2021 through virtual mode, Vardhan said right from scaling up the laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests and working on vaccines to manufacturing Personal Protection Kits (PPE), scientists handled the challenge very deftly.
“The scientific community rose to the occasion during the pandemic,” he said. Vardhan cited the example of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s Bengaluru-based National Aerospace Laboratories to drive home the point how the community responded well to the demands of the situation. “Those making aeroplane started building ventilators to meet the challenge,” he said.
He said the science and technology ecosystem in India has always been a dynamic and evolving area with the government’s support through its different schemes and policies. “However, in the last year, with the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, its true power, resilience and capability have been unleashed with concerted efforts of the government and private sector together,” the minister stressed.
The government, through the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), its autonomous institutions and public sector undertakings, Department of Health Research (DHR), Department of Science and Technology, Indian Council for Medical Research and the CSIR has been working relentlessly to mitigate the COVID-19 global health crisis through development of diagnostics, vaccines, support to start-ups, rapid regulatory response among other steps, he said.
“A multi-pronged research strategy and action plan was evolved for immediate response including augmentation of COVID -19 testing across the country as well as for long-term preparedness to tackle the COVID-19 infection,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lauded the DBT for its role in the mitigation of COVID-19 pandemic.
The three-day event from March 1-3 will showcase the strength and opportunities of the India’s biotechnology sector at national level and to the global community. The theme for the event is “Transforming Lives” with the tag line “Biosciences to Bio-economy.”