Exceptionally huge bit of COVID-19 antibodies liable to be made in India: Gates Foundation CEO

Exceptionally huge bit of COVID-19 antibodies liable to be made in India: Gates Foundation CEO

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  • Post By : Kumar Jeetendra

  • Source: PTI

  • Date: 21 Oct,2020

A very large part of COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be manufactured in India through the country’s strong and robust private sector partners,” said Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman.

In an interview with PTI, Suzman noted that India is doing what it can right now with the tools at hand to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think India is doing everything it can right now with the tools at hand, but we’re hopeful that next year as some of these vaccines should come out. . .and our expectation is that a very large part of these will likely be manufactured in India through the powerful and robust Indian private sector partners and then that will be the key area to focus on in the next phase of this COVID pandemic,” he said. He underlined the need to have an equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We believe passionately that there needs to be equitable global distribution, so everything we’re doing is to be sure the developing countries will be able to have access at exactly the exact same time and at the exact volumes as wealthy nations, because for a global pandemic that’s essential, but then the exact pacing and supply within the countries is going to depend on national guidelines with some of the international recommendations,” he said. He said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was operating at multiple levels to fight COVID-19.

“We have been offering support, so-called upstream, or research and development. We work with this organization, CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, which is a leading partner in investing in the potential vaccines. We have developed something called a therapeutic accelerator that has raised over USD 125 million to help find treatments which are going to work against COVID,” he said.

He said the foundation was working to encourage a good deal of work around diagnostics also. “And in that context, we are strong supporters of this worldwide effort, which India is part of, called COVAX, which is a multilateral initiative to secure vaccines at scale and then disperse them through the GAVI vaccine alliance to countries including India,” Suzman added.

“And last but not least, we’ve been directly supporting some specific investments, again some with Indian partners like Serum Institute of India and GAVI around specific vaccines which are very promising to be able to make sure many of the products are being manufactured in real time and even ahead of regulatory approval for possible distribution because we need to be certain that the distribution goes to developing countries at exactly the exact same time as rich nations, that you don’t have the time lag with wealthy countries having purchased up early available market, which has been the risk,” he said.

He said the biggest learning from the pandemic is that at all levels, global, regional, nationwide, there needs to be a permanent infrastructure in place that is prepared and ready to go which will keep the world much better prepared for another one, which will come.

“It isn’t as if the pandemic was actually that much of a surprise, maybe the scale, the rate and the specific nature of the pathogen could not have been predicted but as Bill Gates and others have been warning for decades, this has been one of the most likely global crises,” he said.

“But we know that unknown pathogens have the potential to come in and wreak havoc so we should never again be captured flat-footed. We are in need of a global infrastructure, regional infrastructure, and national infrastructure and right down to the neighborhood health degree,” he added.

Responding to a question on how the Grand Challenges platform is relevant for the present pandemic situation, he said some of the networks and groups of scientists who joined the Grand Challenges are working hard on several facets of COVID-19.

“They also provided the stage that looks at related issues that is enabling scientific leadership in developing nations, particularly women, to think about what the long-term issues of the future will be or the present and the future, including but beyond COVID-19,” he said.

Grand Challenges India was set up as a partnership of the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2012, and Wellcome also joined the partnership. Grand Challenges India works ac

In an interview with PTI, Suzman noted that India is doing everything it can right now with the resources at hand to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. First published on PTI

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