Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has said India's research and vaccine manufacturing capabilities will help the world in fighting coronavirus. While delving deep on upcoming challenges of vaccine distribution across the world, Bill Gates, during the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2020, said India as a country has made long strides when it comes to developing health infrastructure. Calling India's journey "very inspiring", Gates said: "And now, India's research and manufacturing will be critical to fighting Covid-19 especially when it comes to making vaccines at large scale."
The Microsoft co-founder said right now the world was facing the biggest challenge in terms of ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Talking about the scientific breakthroughs with regard to coronavirus, Gates said researchers around the world are sharing data on a real-time basis rather than waiting for them to go through the traditional publication processes.
"Since the pandemic began, scientists have shared 1,37,000 viral Covid-19 genomic sequences," he added. He said the world has reunited against the deadly virus, which has claimed over 11 lakh lives so far. Even pharma companies are also cooperating in ways never seen before, said Gates. Gates said mRNA vaccine is one area that looks promising. "Probably, the first approved vaccine for Covid-19 will be mRNA," he said.
Multinational pharma companies like Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech are conducting clinical trials of their vaccine candidates based on mRNA techniques. Messenger ribonucleic acid or mRNA medicines or vaccines are sets of instructions. And these instructions direct cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.
Gates, however, said the vaccine development alone won't address the problem as its production can throw various challenges. He said it's difficult to store scale-up mRNA vaccine as it requires a proper cold chain.
He said it's important to understand this technology better to bring down the cost and the need for a cold chain environment. He also said that the diagnostic platforms also need to innovate further to produce accurate results.
He said diagnostics are letting people down as wrong results lead to infection spread. "Even when sometimes people are tested, results come back negative because some of the tests are not sensitive to the small nano-virus," he said.
Talking about the need to develop advanced diagnostic platforms, he said the current business model is identifying people with symptoms has to change. He said all international teams are working to bring the vaccine in the market at the earliest. "One or more of these vaccines will be available by early next year and as there will be multiple vaccines, it is necessary to make sure to understand how exactly and where to use each of them," he said.