New Delhi: Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh said that under the able guidance and leadership of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, India has developed four indigenous vaccines in just two years.
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in Ministry of Science & Technology has through “Mission COVID Suraksha”, delivered four vaccines, augmented the manufacturing of Covaxin, and created necessary infrastructure for smooth development of future vaccines, so that our country is pandemic ready, he said.
These vaccines were developed in collaboration with various.
The four vaccines are- ZyCoV-D- World’s first and India’s indigenously developed DNA Vaccine, CORBEVAX- India’s first protein subunit vaccine, GEMCOVAC-19 – World’s first and India’s indigenously developed mRNA vaccine andiNCOVACC-World’s first and India’s indigenously developed intranasal COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking after a high-level meeting with Secretary DBT, Dr Rajesh Gokhale and other senior officials of the Department, following the formal launch of Intranasal Covid Vaccine, Dr Jitendra Singh pointed out that financial support for vaccine development, as well as expert scientific and technical oversight and monitoring for various COVID-19 vaccine development activities, were provided under this Mission.
Dr Jitendra Singh underlined that in the wake of the pandemic crisis, vaccine development for COVID-19 was accorded the highest priority by the Modi Government and accordingly, “Mission COVID Suraksha” was announced by Government of India, at a total cost of Rs. 900 Crore, under Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 package. The aim was to enable development of safe, efficacious, affordable, and indigenous COVID-19 vaccines in an accelerated manner, the Minister pointed out.
Dr Jitendra Singh emphasised that “Mission COVID Suraksha” also supported augmentation of manufacturing facilities for enhancement of COVAXIN® production at Bharat Biotech’s Malur facility and Indian Immunologicals Limited, Hyderabad.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that “Mission COVID Suraksha” required a strong public-private partnership (PPP) model to deliver the vaccine on an urgent basis. He said, DBT had the required strength and infrastructure to develop such a model and work with the scientific community, as well as, vaccine manufacturers to deliver vaccines in a short span of time, which was needed by our country and also the global community.
The Minister also added that DBT with its more than three decades long experience in vaccine research and development already had basic scientific strength through its Autonomous Institutes and also an industry-academia interface agency, i.e. BIRAC for enabling accelerated vaccine development and hence, DBT was entrusted to lead the implementation of this Mission by BIRAC.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, the COVID-19 pandemic brought intense challenges to the global scientific community, both in terms of managing the infection and preventing it. The Government of India, has been praised globally by the international community for its leadership at the highest levels and its vision to manage the pandemic.
The 4 COVID-19 vaccines supported under Mission COVID Suraksha received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). ZyCoV-D- World’s first and India’s indigenously developed DNA Vaccine. Received EUA on 20th August, 2021 for use in 12 years and above age group; Then EUA on 26th April 2022 for 2-dose regimen.
CORBEVAX–India’s first protein subunit vaccine. (Received EUA on 29th December 2021 for use in >18 age group; subsequently on 22nd February, 2022 for use in 12-18 year age group; and on 26th April, 2022 for use in 5-12 years age group; included as heterologous “precaution dose” on 4th June, 2022).
GEMCOVAC-19– World’s first and India’s indigenously developed mRNA vaccine. (Received EUA on 28th June, 2022).
iNCOVACC-World’s first and India’s indigenously developed intranasal COVID-19 Vaccine (Received EUA on 6th September 2022 for use in primary series for 18 years and above and on 25th November 2022 as homologous and heterologous booster).
Secretary, DBT, Dr Rajesh Gokhale informed that the clinical trial sites supported under Mission COVID Suraksha have facilitated clinical trials for ZyCoV-D, Covovax, GEMCOVAC-19, CORBEVAX, Covaxin Booster, rBCG (Serum Institute) and J&J’s COVID vaccine. An electronic volunteer database of nearly 1.5 lakh subjects has also been prepared.
Animal challenge facilities and immunoassay labs at DBT Autonomous Institutes, offered crucial services to vaccine developers.
Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad, an Autonomous Institute of DBT, offered hamster models and neutralization assays for ZyCoV-D and CORBEVAX.
THSTI bioassay lab has also been recognized as one of the 7 labs of the global CEPI network.
National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi, an autonomous institute of DBT, provided immunogenicity assay services for iNCOVACC Phase III clinical trials.