Covid Working Group Chief Dr NK Arora Says World Will Depend On India For Vaccines
It may be early days still, but there is a strong chance that the world will ultimately depend on India for affordable and effective vaccines against COVID-19, one of the country’s top doctors has said. Dr NK Arora, chairperson of the Centre’s Covid Working Group, based his assessment on the number of new, made-in-India products lined up for launch in the near future.
Heaping praise on the Indian pharmaceutical industry, naming those such as Pune-based Serum Institute and Ahemdabad-based Cadilla Pharma, he expressed excitement about some of their products which could potentially change the dynamics of the battle against the pandemic.
“This may sound presumptuous. Ultimately the world will be dependent on us for vaccines. It is very premature, very presumptuous,” Dr Arora told NDTV, his assertion predicated on India’s own requirements being fulfilled first.
“I’m aware that everybody is looking forward to India. Because most of the poor countries and low-income countries have no source. Today it is easier to buy weapons than to buy vaccines,” he said.
His statement comes just as the country is recovering from a deadly second wave of the pandemic that saw a huge surge in the number of deaths and hospitalisations, accompanied by an acute shortage of resources, including vaccines. So much so that countries like the US have come to India’s aid on this front.
Referring to some of the vaccines expected to be soon introduced in India, Dr Arora, also Chairperson of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation which guides the government on matters related to vaccination, spoke about the promise they hold.
“Novavax (of Serum Institute) is very exciting. In the past week it has created a rage because India is going to manufacture almost a billion doses a year. It is going to be simple and cheaper with a 90 per cent vaccine effectiveness,” he said.
“A very similar Indian vaccine is also under phase 3 trial, which is the Bio E vaccine. These vaccines are exciting because we have previous experience on a similar platform. They are safe across the age groups and have very high effectiveness,” he said.
Bio E, in particular, may hold huge potential since the vaccine, being developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E., may be sold at an incredibly low Rs 250 for two doses.
“Bio E will be out likely in October with an efficacy matching Novavax’s. In other words, 90 per cent. They are moving to stage 3 trials soon,” Dr Arora said.
The others that he referred to were Cadilla’s product and India’s own messenger RNA-based Covid vaccine to be manufactured by Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals.