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Gates Foundation working to develop mRNA tech capacities in India

The Indian life sciences ecosystem would soon have mRNA (messenger Ribonucleic Acid) capacities, helping it address a wide spectrum of diseases, using the new approach to medicine.

Bill Gates, a Co-Founder of Microsoft and Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has said the foundation is working with its partners in the Indian ecosystem to promote mRNA capacities in the country.

Taking part in a fireside chat at the 19 th edition of the BioAsia conference in the virtual mode on Thursday, he said that mRNA was a sort of a surprise star of the pandemic.

“We had vaccines made by many different techniques – the viral vector and protein subunit. But mRNA was not available for manufacturing outside of the US and Europe,” he said.

He was replying to a question by Telangana IT and Industries Minister, K T Rama Rao, on how the life sciences industry in Telangana could work with the foundation and bring in affordable therapies.

“We are thinking whether gene therapy can be used for things like sickle cell disease or HIV. We have to get the cost to come down by almost a factor of hundred from what it is today,” Bill Gates said.

India model unique
The beauty of the Indian ecosystem was that it not only went after innovation, but also went after the cost issues – that’s the way to redesign things and retain the miraculous capabilities of gene therapy and yet make it available to everyone in the world.

“We are thrilled to have partners in India who share that vision,” he said.

Appreciating Indian players for developing and deploying the vaccines fast, he said India did two things that stood out – creating great vaccines with global partners, including the Gates Foundation, and getting those vaccines out.

“India’s vaccines coverage is very impressive, which was even better than most rich countries. That’s quite phenomenal,” he commented.

Next pandemic
The last pandemic occurred 100 years ago. The next one might not take that long, he said.

“The next big potential crisis is likely to be a respiratory virus, with all the human travel we now have, that’s the one that can spread in such a rapid way”.

Gates’ new book
Stating that his next book is getting ready for a launch in the spring, he said it would focus on the learnings from the pandemic and the significance of funding the private sector and academia to build better diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Answering a question on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) being a sustainable development problem, Gates pointed out that 13 lakh people due to this problem.

“We see AMR for pneumonia, typhoid, and for women who are delivering, which is an incredible tragedy – one particular bacterium which we are worried about is Klebsiella pneumonia which affects newborns,” he observed. The Hindu BusinessLine

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