DBT demystifies the science behind the COVID19 vaccine development

The aim of the webinar was to communicate the science behind vaccine development and discuss the various steps in the vaccine trails

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New Delhi: The Department of Biotechnology on 31st December conducted a webinar on the challenges and mitigation of the COVID-19 vaccine development. The aim of the webinar was to communicate the science behind vaccine development and discuss the various steps in the vaccine trails.
A panel of members from various pharma and biotech majors such as Zydus Cadila, Dr Reddy’s, The Serum Institute, Gennova Biopharma, Bharat Biotech International Ltd. discussed the progress and plan of the vaccine trial and roll out in India. As of now, according to a spokesperson from The Serum Institute, they have stocked over 75 million shots of its Oxford – AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary Department of Biotechnology & Chairperson BIRAC, said, “2020 has been a challenging year which gave rise to immense opportunities and achievement in science, technology and healthcare. The year has showcased the response by science and technology to be able to deliver to a global calling and it has been possible solely because of the unique ecosystem and national and international collaboration. India has been recognized for the strength and competence of its scientists, human resources, infrastructure, and our ability to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine. This has reinforced the confidence for India to solve for global challenges of today and tomorrow.”
She added, “This is the first time in history that a vaccine has been converted from the laboratory to the final product in less than 12 months and we hope to close 2020 with aspiration and confidence of the vaccine rollout in the coming year.”
Prof G Padmanaban, Former Director, IISc, and NASI-Platinum Jubilee Senior Scientist, IISc, explained the structure and composition of the Novel Coronavirus and shared a few recommendations such as Consortia for surveillance (Genomics), Consortia for Diagnostics, Consortia for Assays, Consortia to cut across agencies and departments, to give the novel vaccine a chance, create vaccine awareness and continue the public health measures in order to contain the spread. He also explained the unique features of the Self-amplifying mRNA (SAM) vaccine platform and mentioned that the Drug Controller General of India has permitted the phase I study of the platform in a quick clearance of the proposal.
The other speakers present at the webinar were Dr Alka Sharma, Adviser, Department of Biotechnology; Dr V G Somani, Drugs Controller General of India; Dr Raghavan Varadarajan Professor, Molecular Biophysics Unit Indian Institute of Science; Prof Shahid Jameel Director, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University; Prof. Gagandeep Kang Professor, Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, CMC Vellore.
The webinar was moderated by Dr Kavita Singh, Mission Director, National Bio-pharma Mission and the vote of thanks was delivered by Dr Shirshendu Mukherjee, Mission Director, Grand Challenges India – BIRAC.