India to strengthen vaccine research capacity in neighbouring countries

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

Vishal Jain

28th September 2020

The Department of Biotechnology of India stated on 23rd September 2020 that it has initiated a 'science diplomacy program' in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs. The principal objective of the initiative is to strengthen the capacity of clinical trial research vaccines in neighbouring countries.

India to conduct training programs with its neighbouring countries (Source: The Lancet)

NDTV reported that the training program will continue for about six to eight weeks. Its first online orientation training program took place on 22nd September 2020 and representatives from Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Bangladesh attended the program.

According to The Hindu, the key objective of the training program is to support the investigators and researchers' team to strengthen and enhance their capabilities. Doing this will allow them to conduct clinical trials in compliance with the International Conference on Harmonization — Good Clinical Practice (ICH-GCP).

This program will be a step in science diplomacy and will allow India to share knowledge through the training program. It will also fulfil India‘s commitment to building technical capacities in her neighbouring countries. Ind-CEPI will aid the efforts to connect with ASEAN, African and South Asian regions.

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is on a mission for rapid vaccine and technological development for the diseases of epidemic potential in India. India joined CEPI in 2017. The main objective of CEPI is to speed up the development of vaccines against deadly diseases and provide access to a vaccine to people during outbreaks.

CEPI is an international alliance and finances the development of vaccines against contagious diseases. It invites applicants to fund projects to develop vaccine candidates. CEPI is a non-governmental organisation and is sponsored by eight countries — Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Ethiopia, Japan, Norway, and Canada. Bill Gates also funds the organisation.

Renu Swarup, secretary of DBT, stated that it is a priority of the department to help the low and middle-income countries (LMICs) build clinical trial capacity and that it was a step in the right direction under the Ind-CEPI mission, reported The Hindu.

Supporting capacity building and regional networking with LMICs is one of the key focus areas of this mission. This will help the participating countries to conduct Phase III trials of COVID-19 vaccines. In the third phase, thousands of volunteers of patients will test the vaccine at numerous locations.

In case of a drug, this is the stage when a new drug is compared to the existing standard of healthcare. At this stage, the drug must prove that it is either more effective or is of similar potency — but is safer and comparatively tolerable or delivers any of the effects that the manufacturers had claimed while creating the drug.

(Source: The Hindu, NDTV, BSI Bureau)

Edited by Meghna Venkatesh

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