In an effort to promote indigenous vaccine development, the Government of India has announced a stimulus package of Rs 900 crore for the Mission Covid Suraksha. The COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission with end-to-end focus from preclinical development, through clinical development, and manufacturing and regulatory facilitation for deployment would consolidate all available and funded resources towards an accelerated product development.
This grant, according to the government’s official statement, will be provided to the Department of Biotechnology for Research & Development of Indian COVID-19 vaccines. It will ensure that they are fast tracked for introduction in public health systems. The Department of Biotechnology has supported 10 vaccine candidates at academia and industry level. And as of date, five vaccine candidates are in human trial stage.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been personally monitoring the progress of vaccine development in India. On November 20, he had chaired a high-level meeting with officials and scientists to take stock of the vaccine development initiatives, ongoing efforts to prepare a database of healthcare and frontline workers and augmentation of cold chains etc.
Then on November 28, PM Modi was on a three-city visit to the facilities of Zydus in Ahmedabad, Serum Institute in Pune and Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad. During interaction with the companies, he asked them for suggestions and ideas regarding the regulatory processes and related matters. He also suggested that they should take extra efforts to inform the general public in simple language about the vaccine and related matters such as its efficacy. Matters relating to logistics, transport, cold chain etc. in respect of delivering the vaccines were also discussed.
The world is turning to India as a hub for producing the COVID-19 vaccine. Over the last decade, the country has emerged as a global pharmaceuticals and vaccine hub. Various reports describe India as one of the largest suppliers of generic medicines, occupying about 20 per cent of global supplies. And complementing the large production capacity and R&D capabilities, Indian manufacturers have the ability to produce vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs at the lowest costs world-wide.