First of its kind CEPI centralized network lab established in India at DBT-THSTI Faridabad

The CEPI laboratory will be a great addition to the ability of THSTI to enhance the quality of services towards making vaccine and acceptability at the global level, says Dr Harsh Vardhan

New Delhi: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science and Technology, and Health and Family Welfare inaugurated one of the seven labs of the world called the centralized network lab of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) established at Translational Health Science & Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad, through the virtual platform in New Delhi.
THSTI is an institute of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the only laboratory of such kind in India and is also accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan lauded DBT and BIRAC for “working relentlessly over the past ten months to develop effective interventions for combating the COVID pandemic”. He said, “The CEPI laboratory will be a great addition to the ability of THSTI to enhance the quality of services towards making the vaccine and its acceptability at the global level”.
The Minister recalled with a great appreciation of how the Indian scientists turned around the country from being an importer to an exporter of world-class COVID kits and related products during the last year of difficult times. He reminded that scientists, frontline COVID warriors, and general people rose to the occasion and fought the pandemic with focussed attention. He said, “Today, the country is in the forefront of developing vaccines against COVID-19”, and added, “already two of the 30 vaccines have already been cleared by the Drug Controller” for use and the rest are in advanced stages.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India is implementing the Ind-CEPI mission titled ‘India Centric Epidemic Preparedness through Rapid Vaccine Development: Supporting Indian Vaccine Development Aligned with the Global Initiative of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)’. Ind-CEPI Mission aims to strengthen the development of vaccines for the diseases of epidemic potential in India as well as build coordinated preparedness in the Indian public health system and vaccine industry to address existing and emergent infectious threats in India. The major focus at present is to help to evaluate new Covid-19 vaccines, using standard analysis and the same reagents in all labs so that vaccine produced has global acceptance and repeatability of the results, for global use.
The clinical sample testing laboratories selected for this collaborative vaccine network are: Nexelis (Canada) and Public Health England (PHE; UK), VisMederiSrl (Italy), Viroclinics Biosciences BV (The Netherlands), Q2 Solutions (USA), International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh (ICDDR-B, Bangladesh), National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC, UK), and Translational Health Sciences and Technological Institute (THSTI, India). CEPI has approved costs of up to the US $16 million for this network. All COVID-19 vaccine developers can use this network for free to assess the immunogenicity of their vaccine candidate against a common protocol, using clinical samples from preclinical, Phase I through Phase III trials.
Dr Harsh Vardhan also released the e-Book on science and technology solutions for COVID-19 that showcases the initiatives undertaken by the Department of Biotechnology for the mitigation of this Pandemic. From the development of indigenous vaccines, novel point-of-care diagnostics, and therapeutic formulations based on traditional knowledge, to the establishment of research resources and offering services, the Department is focused on creating an ecosystem to foster Atmanirbharta for innovative product development, with societal relevance. The E-Book showcases the indigenous COVID-19 interventions developed by DBT supported initiatives.