Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science & Technology, Health & Family Welfare and Earth Sciences inaugurated one of the seven labs of the world called as the centralised 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 today. THSTI is an institute of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT). This is the only laboratory of such kind in India and is also accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT; Chandra Prakash Goyal, JS, DBT and MD BIBCOL, Vishvajit Sahay, Additional Secretary & Financial Adviser; Dr Alka Sharma, Adviser, DBT; Dr Subeer S. Majumdar, Executive Director (Officer in Charge), THSTI, Director, NIAB; Dr Jitendra Sharma, MD, Andhra Med Tech Zone (AMTZ), Visakhapatnam; Dr Jyoti M Logani, Scientist ‘E’, DBT, were present on the occasion and several scientists and officials of DBT and THSTI joined the function online.
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 Global level”.
The Minister recalled 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.
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 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 $16million 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 S&T solutions for COVID -19 that showcases the initiatives undertaken by the Department of Biotechnology for the mitigation of this pandemic. The E-Book showcases the indigenous COVID-19 interventions developed by DBT supported initiatives.
(Edits by EP News Bureau)