India’s position as the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume will play a crucial role when an effective vaccine is developed globally and the US government is monitoring the vaccine development efforts of Indian companies through its 30-year-old partnership with India’s department of biotechnology, Anthony Fauci, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the US, said on Thursday.
“India’s private sector also has a very important role in being the world’s leading manufacturer of vaccines. As effective covid-19 vaccines emerge from our research effort, this manufacturing capability is going to be very important,» Fauci said at the international symposium on vaccines against the covid-19 pandemic, hosted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Fauci is the top infectious diseases expert in the US government.
NIAID and India’s department of biotechnology have had a partnership of more than 30 years through the Indo-US Vaccine Action Plan (VAP), and this is playing a role in monitoring India’s research and development (R&D) efforts in vaccine development, Fauci added.
“Three weeks ago, VAP convened an expert advisory committee to review covid-19 vaccine research and development in India. Eleven vaccines were reviewed by a panel that provided recommendations for how these candidates might be further developed and assessed, and we look forward to continuing this involvement and supporting the vaccine R&D efforts,» Fauci said.
There are seven companies developing various vaccine candidates in India, with the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume, partnering AstraZeneca plc to produce about 1 billion doses of its covid-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate, which is being co-developed by the University of Oxford, is the front runner globally with a phase III trial underway and interim data published in the Lancet journal earlier this month indicated that it was safe and provided two levels of immunity.
Governments should start taking financial risks in scaling up production of vaccines to meet demand, but when vaccine candidates get regulatory approval, companies and governments should not take short cuts as this can endanger patients, said Fauci.