India has made a significant contribution to Vaccine development. Speaking at the opening ceremony of International Vaccine Symposium here at Surajkund today, Dr Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Science and Technology, and Earth Sciences said, India produces 60 percent of the world’s vaccines and account for 60-80 percent of annual UN vaccine purchases. Several Indian vaccine manufacturers are WHO pre-qualified. The current Indian vaccine market is estimated at around $ 900 million and targets $4.6 billion revenue by 2017. It is poised to grow 23% during 2011-2012. Vaccines are the most cost-effective public health products known to us. And they are means to prevent or the potential to develop preventive solutions. Every year, about eight million children globally never make it to their fifth birthday that can be saved with vaccines.
The Minister told that India’s contribution in mid level vaccine innovation coupled with an improvement in biopharmaceutical R&D capacity and capability is noteworthy. India has indigenously developed novel vaccines that today are either commercialised or are near commercialization for diseases like: Meningococcal Meningitis; Rotavirus; H1N1 & Japanese B Encephalitis. Government investment and support has been an integral part of this endeavour. The Minister referred to new schemes such as Small Business Innovation Research Initiative (SBIRI) & Biotechnology Industry Partnership Program (BIPP) which have been started by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and have provided an impetus to the innovation cascade and encouraged new players.
Referring to the 2010-2020 as the “Decade of Innovation”, Dr Kumar said innovation in Vaccine R&D and endeavour towards affordable health care must live up to Gandhiji’s commandment of practicing science with humanism. This should also help us address other challenges facing the country like food and nutrition, climate and environment, energy, affordable housing etc.
India’s growing focus on funding for scientific education and encouragement to our scientists returning from foreign shores in the form of efforts like efforts like DBT-Wellcome Trust Fellowships & Ramalingaswami Fellowships have helped in the success in the field of vaccine production. Key elements enabling an innovation-friendly environment in place are a balanced contribution for high risk projects by the public and private sectors, academia-industry collaboration within the country and with global non-profit agencies, efficient regulatory system and vast network with international collaborations including South-South engagements.
India innovated vaccines for big killer diseases like HIV, TB, Malaria, Dengue etc. India’s scientists at the DBT-supported International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) are working in malaria and dengue. Our R&D in vaccines against HIV and TB is improving. The establishment of Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) at Faridabad and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) partnered HIV vaccine Design Centre is an important milestone in this area. We have correctly valued global partnerships with agencies like the IAVI, National Institute of Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as it has helped mobilization of global talent and working together of best scientists to serve our nation’s future public health needs. Greater efforts are yet needed for Vaccines for Cancer and Non Communicable diseases, Dr. Kumar added.
He informed, “The low pricing has been possible due to social innovation, Public Private Sector Partnership programs and competition amongst the Indian and other Developing country manufacturers. Bharat Biotech’s Rotavirus vaccine and Serum Institutes Meningococcal Meningitis Vaccine was developed is as an example of this arrangement. The National Rural Health Mission efforts are beginning to show results with steady increases in coverage of routine EPI vaccine.”
In today’s globalized world, collaboration with and across national boundaries is essential. TB, Malaria and HIV solutions require concerted efforts by the best minds such as the ones present with us today.
The objectives of this symposium are to leverage on the knowhow of existing research, developments and management opportunities globally and within India proactively and identify/promote set of vaccine R&D targets for each stage of development to shape the portfolio at every stage, develop and promote a global and sustainable pipeline delivering the optimal cost-effective vaccines for Government of India priority disease by Indian researchers for public health use in synchronization to the national vaccine strategy of Government of India.
Approximately 100 Vaccine Research scientists and developers from the public and private sector in India and globally including specialists or physicians in training in the following disciplines: infectious diseases, clinical microbiology/immunology, public health, vaccinology and other disciplines dealing with all aspects of vaccination are attending this symposium.
The meeting is a first of its kind in India and promises to maintain its position as the largest scientific meeting devoted exclusively to research on vaccines and associated technologies for disease prevention and treatment through immunization. It will provide an opportunity to initiate collaborations with the established groups and ensure the mix and percolation of scientific knowledge through engaged discussion around different themes promoting an interdisciplinary approach.
It is expected that these discussions from the public and private sector in India and Globally would facilitate collaborations for future vaccine design , accelerated development and validation of specific new or improved version of existing vaccines against infectious diseases of public health importance in India.
The symposium has been organized by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India (GOI) in partnership with International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), Indo US Vaccine Action Program, Translational Health Science & Technology Institute (THSTI) and Clinical Development Services Agency (CDSA); a meeting about international exchange of information on Vaccine Research and Development.