After the January 2 press conference, Venugopal Girdharilal Somani, the drug controller general of India (DCGI) since July 2019, became known to the wider public as a man of very few words. After reading a statement announcing the government’s choice of two Covid-19 vaccine candidates, he declined to take questions but enigmatically pronounced both drugs “110 per cent safe”.

But his peers and associates say that he is more a man of action. H G Koshia, commissioner, Food and Drug Control Administration of Gujarat, offers this example of Somani’s lightning …


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