New Delhi: India has been receiving medical supplies from China even as efforts to manufacture some of it domestically are on during the countrywide lockdown imposed last week to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Official sources said in the last five days, more than 60 cargo air services transported over 15 tonnes of essential medical supplies between India and China.
The supplies include reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, gloves and other accessories required for fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic, sources said. The Indian pharma industry heavily relies on imports of bulk drugs (APIs and intermediates), with more than 50 per cent of API coming from China. Imports from China have been on a steady rise over the years due to the low-cost advantage Chinese manufacturers have. The value addition in India is mainly through formulation, packaging and distribution.
However, the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan city of Hubei province, disrupted supplies of pharmaceutical ingredients from China, resulting in shortages. The government in order to ramp up domestic production, completed a molecule-by-molecule mapping of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) imported from China, in February. “Ever since, local manufacturers are being encouraged to produce APIs and we are ensuring that we don’t face shortages,” an official source said.