Union Minister of State (independent office) Science and Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today called for equal industry participation to support startups.
The Union Minister was speaking at the signing ceremony of an agreement between the Technology Development Board (TDB) of the Ministry of Science and Technology and M/s Sapigen Biologix, Hyderabad, led by Dr Krishna Ella of Bharat Biotech for the development and commercialization of two novel vaccines – Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine and RTS, S Malaria Vaccine. Moreover, there will be an equal stake for both parties, with each party contributing Rs 200 crore respectively to ensure sustainable startups.
Dr. Jitendra Singh said this initiative will ensure equal participation with equal partnership and accountability for the sustainable startup industry. He said India’s vaccine strategy symbolized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of an Atma Nirbhar Bharat. He said India’s vaccine strategy brought together pharma, industry and academia in a partnership to address current and future challenges, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
The Union Minister said that the idea behind initiatives like this is to have a long-term sustainable partnership and provide a sustainable source of livelihood for the youth of India. Dr Singh believed that the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Modi, was encouraging industrial awareness by offering all possible support.
Dr. Jitendra Singh said it was not just an agreement of equal participation and partnership but also equal social responsibility. He called it a new start in India’s vaccine strategy and expressed hope that it will give a new impetus to research and development in the country.
The Minister noted that today, only a few years after the pandemic, India’s pharmaceutical industry has been able to develop its own indigenous vaccines. It has also shown the absorptive capacity of the technology to support the manufacture of almost all Covid vaccines that have been developed, that too in a cost-effective way, becoming the “pharmacy of the world”. In March 2021, India exported 5.84 crore doses of Covid vaccines to 70 countries. This was possible due to the availability of skilled labor at low cost and a well-established manufacturing ecosystem.
As part of the agreement signed today, the Technology Development Council and Bharat Biotech have pledged to support Rs 200 crore each to create an ongoing pipeline of Rs 400 crore for the development and commercialization of two new vaccines – the Covid-19 intranasal vaccine and RTS, S Malaria Vaccine. The company aims to set up a cGMP art facility in Bhubaneswar, in accordance with the latest global standards, for the manufacture of intranasal Covid-19 vaccine and malaria vaccine (RTS,S) initially and then expand the product portfolio by adding other vaccines. The two vaccines to be developed and marketed are:
– Nasal coronavirus vaccine: Unlike the currently used intramuscular (IM) coronavirus vaccine, the intranasal vaccine can generate a mucosal immune response, thereby protecting both the upper and lower respiratory system of a vaccinated individual and breaking the cycle of infection and transmission. The present project uses the technology platform developed by Washington University, St. Louis School of Medicine for the chimpanzee adenovirus SARS-COV-2 in inactivated or killed virus form.
– RTS,S malaria vaccine: Given the public health potential, the World Health Organization’s key advisory bodies for malaria and immunization have jointly recommended the phased introduction of the vaccine in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – began introducing the vaccine in selected areas of moderate and high malaria transmission in 2019. Vaccinations are provided as part of each country’s routine immunization schedule. According to GAVI forecasts, the demand for malaria vaccine will be 75 million doses by 2035.
Both vaccines are new and will be in commercial production for the first time.
The company aims to produce 100 million doses/year of intranasal Covid-19 vaccine by April 2023 and 15 million doses/year of RTS, S Malaria vaccine by the end of April 2025.
“It will be a continuous corpus and the idea has been translated into reality today. He said Indian pharmaceutical companies not only provide yeoman service to the nation but also play instrumental role in providing medicines and affordable vaccines to the whole world and thereby transforming India as the pharmacy of the world,” Rajesh Kumar Pathak, Secretary, TDB.