In The Future We Should Be Looking At Ecosystem Of Researchers Vaccine Developers


The year 2020 has been very challenging for not only India but the rest of the world, especially with an ongoing pandemic, and as we as a nation are so close to get our approval on the Covid-19 vaccine from the drug regulators, everyone is entering the New Year with hope. However, no matter how close we are to rollout our vaccines in order to fight the “invisible enemy”, there are certain quarries which people wants to know.

First of all, this is the first time in the history when a vaccine has been invented in less than 12 months, therefore, the question remains as to how were these vaccines created in such a short period of time. Well, “there are various factors which have played a role, and one of them would be that the people themselves are involved in the process more than ever before, they have been constantly engaged with the procedure of developing the vaccine, as everyone is eagerly waiting to receive them”, said by Dr. Renu Swarup, the secretary of Government of India, heading the department of Biotechnology.

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There are also doubts on the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines, especially when there is a bucket full of vaccines, on different platforms in India and globally, she added, while speaking in a webinar on the science of vaccine development. She also said that” the kind of infrastructure we have developed today will go beyond the Covid, along with collaboration and help of the diversity of the manufactures.”

In the webinar conducted by National Biopharma Mission, Dr. Gagandeep Kang, a medical research scientist, correctly pointed out the areas India still needs to work on, as she said that India is developing huge amounts of vaccines in terms of scale, but the technology used is from outside India. For example, the Serum Institute of India is working on the AstraZeneca vaccine which is developed by Oxford. Hence, in the future we should be looking at the ecosystem of researchers and the vaccine developers.

Various other important questions were asked and answered in the webinar. The most important question which everyone is asking that by when will the vaccines will be available or by when will the vaccines be ready to use. The regulator Dr. Somani who joined the webinar for a short period of time but have answered all the questions said that, as soon as the regulators get enough data to actually understand that the vaccine is effective enough the emergency license will be issued. At the same time he assured that every vaccine goes through a process of scrutiny by various researchers and at present the process is being done in a rolling basis but nothing is being compromised.   

He also added that all the steps that are usually followed in order to approve a vaccine are diligently being followed and no compromise is being done. He also said that the fact that a vaccine is approved in some other country, it doesn’t necessarily needs to be approves in India, the process of scrutiny will still be followed prior of giving an approval.

When asked that the term “emergency usage” is actually the word of the FDA and such a term does not exist in India, he said that the term “emergency use does not exist but we have an alt term which is alternative term for the same, which is “for limited usage”, an approval under such circumstances are used when there is an emergency of any kind, the following is clearly stated in the clause. He also assured that even for emergency use the steps are being followed and the clinical trials are also in place.

There were serious concerns raised as to will the vaccine be effective on the new strain of the corona virus which has been detected in the United Kingdom, Dr. Shaid Jammel, answered saying that minor mutations won’t affect the effect of the vaccine. However, in the long term, once the vaccines are rolled out in larger numbers there is a possibility of the virus getting immunized against the vaccine, hence, in the long term there is a possibility that this particular vaccine might not provide protection against the mutation, but there is nothing to get worried about at present.

A question was raised on the fact that because a most of the people especially the ones living in the rural areas are not quite assured about the safety of the vaccines and its effectiveness as well, Dr. Gagandeep Kung answered saying that “we need to find out a better way to tailor the fact that these vaccines are being developed by following the protocols and are being tested clinically. So, that the masses are assured of the effectiveness of it. We have to prepare much more for that.”

Various questions were raised regarding the logistical challenges which India might be facing, however, the panellists have assured that there is nothing much to worry about as the authorities have done extensive planning and there have been dry runs conducted across the various states, and as we all know that the Serum Institute have assured all of us that they have enough dose stockpiled, hence, if any challenges comes along the way India is ready to face them.

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