BV Academia Series: India will remain the global hub for vaccine manufacturing

Dr. Amit Prasad, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi shares his views with BioVoice News

In our Academic Series interactions, Dr. Amit Prasad, School of Basic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi shares his views with BioVoice News on the various aspects of the vaccine sector in India.

BV LogoKey milestones achieved by the Indian vaccine industry so far?
The history of vaccine research and production started from 1904 when the first vaccine research institute was established at Kasauli. From that time several milestones are achieved, some important one is like establishment of BCG vaccine factory in 1948, 1st indigenous vaccine against polio 1980, Hepatitis B vaccine by Bharat Biotech 1997, indigenous vaccine for JE 2012, Bi-valent oral vaccine for cholera, Meningitis A vaccine and several vaccines against SARS-COVID in 2022 are good examples.
It’s a marvelous achievement for all stake holders associated with Indian vaccine production, development and vaccination program that now India is free of smallpox, cholera and polio. And is considered as vaccine manufacturing hub of the world.
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Which factors could be attributed to the success of the Indian vaccine industry?
The main reason for our success is the huge local demand for vaccines, as in India vaccination was adapted by citizen without much resistance compared to several other developing and developed countries. The huge success of National immunization Program (NIP) created huge opportunity for Indian vaccine manufactures. This also got good support from vibrant academic infrastructure, plenty of trained manpower, support from government and global demand for cheap and reliable vaccine.
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What role have the Indian research institutes and other stakeholders played in the innovation and development of indigenous vaccines?
Indian research institutes have played tremendous role by coming up with new ideas for indigenization of the vaccine, creating trained manpower and developing some new vaccines too. Need not to forget, all the things started with after establishment of CRI Kasauli in 1904.
Similarly, government is also pushing hard to develop this industry which is essential for the success of NIP as we need cheap vaccines.
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In which ways has the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the vaccine development process?
Covid provided the opportunity for major expansion of our manufacturing potential and also made us to realise our limitations like absence of locally produced raw materials. Hopefully the lessons learned during pandemic will shape up a better future ready Indian vaccine industry.
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Would it be possible for the vaccine companies to sustain the momentum?
Maintaining the same kind of momentum in post-pandemic era will be challenging in the absence of demand for the vaccine. But the infrastructure created will be useful to manufacture and export of vaccine.
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Any regulatory or policy related challenges? What kind of support is expected from the government?
The Central Drug Standards Control Organization (CDSCO), which is a National Regulatory Authority (NRA) gives final license and permission for clinical trials for the new vaccine. All the new vaccines are regulated by Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1940, this needs amendment to incorporate/accept the new way of clinical trials assisted with mathematical modeling which can give better results in shorter time span. The first step in this direction was creation of national registry by Indian Council of Medical Research to carry out all new drug trials. However, a lot more improvements are needed.
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How do you look at the future trends that would shape up the Indian vaccine industry?
India will remain the manufacturing hub of vaccine for the world and the way these industries are putting resource for developing new vaccine or new way of vaccine delivery, I am sure that the future prospect is much brighter. If we will be able to make vaccines for many of our neglected tropical diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, cysticercosis, dengue etc this will make our vaccine industry a much sought after across the globe.