As has been widely reported, Pune’s Serum institute has expressed optimism about the Corona vaccine becoming a reality by September/October. The company which has partnership with Oxford University as one of the seven global institutions working to manufacture the vaccine has said that it plans to start production of the COVID-19 vaccine in the next two to three weeks. The Institute has also stated that it wishes to bring it to the market by October if the human clinical trials are successful.
Of course, India’s robust pharma eco-system and the talents involved in the research and entrepreneurship have to be credited for this success. Nevertheless, veterans from this sector are acknowledging that the government has also accelerated the regulatory process and put it on fast track without compromising the safeguards which needed to be taken. This perhaps has thrusted great expectations on India to come up with vaccine for Corona.
Government Regulatory Framework Facilitating the Process Fast
The CEO of Serum institute was asked in an interview with the ETNow channel about the reasons for him reducing the expected date of production for the vaccine, considering the fact that any vaccine typically takes a year to be materialized.
The CEO answered that the longer timeframe for vaccines is also due to the regulatory clearances one needs to take from the government at various steps. He said that the Narendra Modi government is working swiftly, especially in times of Corona crisis, to ensure that his company is getting the required approvals in quick time. He said that institutions like ICMR and the experts involved in the process are spending all their time to rapidly go through the procedures and promptly verify the data they provide to enable quick decision making.
#IDD | Catch @adarpoonawalla of @SerumInstIndia discussing the possibility of a #Covid_19 #vaccine in the market by October @TamannaInamdar #IndiaFightsCOVID19 #CoronavirusPandemic https://t.co/av3FXm6I8a
— ET NOW (@ETNOWlive) April 27, 2020
US Also Betting Big on India
When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo interacted with Indian journalists, he also said that there are some efforts shaping up with the joint initiatives by the US and India.
Be it the US or any other Western nation, there are reasons that they trust India to jointly undertake research with Indian companies or to invest on Indian research. India has a very good track record in vaccination. Also, only countries like India can operate at that scale at which Corona vaccination is needed to cater to the world population.
The Early Head start in Research
The fact that Indian scientists were able to isolate the virus very early has helped the researchers of vaccine and drugs, enabling them to move fast.
Earlier on March 12, 2020, Dr Raman Gangakhedkar from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had explained this feat.
“Coronaviruses are difficult to isolate. But our first efforts to isolate have been successful. Now we have close to about 11 isolates of coronavirus which are available. That’s a prime requisite for doing any kind of research related to coronaviruses. Now that you have the virus, it is safer to start from that base rather than the sequence of the gene to look at what should be the epitopes – those which can lead to development of anti-bodies more effectively – what are those regents which should be used in vaccines.”
The early inputs by the Indian scientific community, the spirit of researchers and Indian companies to aggressively take up the challenge, all of which are backed by the pro-active government, is making India a nation to watch out for in the race for a vaccine for the Corona.