NATIONAL

‘India part of race to develop a vaccine’

K. VijayRaghavan

K. VijayRaghavan  

Principal Scientific Adviser says 30 ‘attempts’ on in the country, which is participating in global efforts

There are nearly 30 “attempts” from India to develop vaccines, K .VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Union government, said at an online web conference on Friday.

“There are over a 100 vaccines being developed worldwide and at least 30 attempts in India. These include efforts where India is participating in global attempts and partnerships among Indian academia and industry,” he said during the webinar organised by the Confederation for Indian Industry (CII) and the Technology Development Board of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

NIV initiative

On Saturday, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) announced a collaboration with the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd. to develop a potential vaccine based on a SARS-CoV-2 strain isolated at the ICMR-National Institute of Virology in Pune.

The Pune-based Serum Institute of India has tied up with Oxford University that is testing a vaccine using a weakened adenovirus (which causes common cold). Early trials have already been conducted, and the Serum Institute has said it is ready to start an initial run of production in June, without waiting for clearer results of the vaccine’s efficacy.

Bharat Biotech is also involved in two other vaccine development projects with different groups.

Test kits

At the webinar, Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, said a major thrust was to develop antibody tests that would help with a graded exit out of the lockdown.

“Lots of professors and heads of institutes from the IITs [Indian Institutes of Technology] ask me how can we reopen colleges and hostels. Having effective testing kits will be useful in taking decisions such as these,” he said.

On Saturday, the Health Ministry announced the development of an ELISA antibody test kit that would help in district-level sero-surveillance. This is a cruder but cheaper way of checking a sample of the population to determine exposure to the virus.

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