India now explores to train and help neighboring countries - like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - join the world class clinical trials and vaccine delivery system being created in the country so that the region becomes a hub for drug and vaccine development in future beyond COVID-19 solutions, says Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India.
Addressing a webinar today on 'Supply chain challenges of COVID-19 vaccines - Indian imperative', she says since the pandemic, India has created a robust regulatory and collaborative ecosystem and partnerships between various stakeholders under the National Biopharma Mission (NBM) to speed up vaccine development. "We are also supporting academic and institutional research on vaccines, transforming the 60-65 clinical trial centers in the country at par with top clinical trial centres across the globe, strengthening manpower from labs to trial centers to last mile distribution, starting new animal trial facilities etc," she says.
Noting that at least three vaccines from India are among the first set of about a dozen COVID-19 vaccines to come out soon, she says several factors worked together to make this possible. If historically vaccine development took 10-14 years, the COVID-19 vaccines are going to come out in 10-14 months. Collaboration and commitment of all stakeholders in various stages made this possible and all worked for a single goal. Regulatory processes took a compressed timeline from discovery, validation and in the trial process without compromising the safety and quality.
International collaborative approach like COVID-19 Tools Accelerator of the World Health Organisation (WHO) helped in accessing key research resources. The Vaccine Group formed by the government proactively worked with various departments and addressed anticipated issues in advance to accelerate the development. At the same time, the government also deliberated proactively with various countries and international organisations for co-operation at various levels to ensure India becomes a hub for COVID-19 vaccines, she says.
Over the last three years the country has been addressing challenegs to increase infrastructure, capacities and capabilities in research and development, says the DBT secretary.
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