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Safety would never be compromised, says Department of Biotechnology

Top bureaucrat of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) which is at the helm of leading India’s vaccine development and availability programme has said that the country will soon have a safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19. In an exclusive interview to the Indian Express, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) Dr Renu Swarup said that the government has already started the preparation for the third phase human trials of the Oxford candidate and its aim is to ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccine to all the citizens of the country irrespective of the vaccine candidate or pharma company.

To the question of balancing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine with the need to put it on the block as quickly as possible, Dr Swarup said that safety of the vaccine would never be compromised as all data is vigorously reviewed by the regulators before giving the go-ahead. She also said that it was more important to have a vaccine which fulfils the desired risk-benefit ratio rather than being first in the race to produce a vaccine. However, she stressed that at the level of expediting the process of reviewing Covid-19 biomedical solutions, the government is leaving no stone unturned. She also said that the development of a quick response regulatory framework to fast track the vaccine development has been the priority of the government. She further said that in addition, the novel technologies and platforms being used to develop the vaccine for Covid-19 have a shorter manufacturing cycle and hence the vaccine might be launched in an unprecedented time frame in comparison to previous other vaccines.

On the question of adoption of newer technologies like DNA and m-RNA by the vaccine candidates around the world which have previously not had much success in curbing the epidemic, Dr Swarup said that since the pathogen is new, the approach towards fighting it also has to be novel and multi-directional. She also said that DNA and m-RNA vaccine candidates apart from being comparatively less expensive also have an advantage of being able to be mass produced on a global scale in a short span of time. As far as the efficacy of such candidates is concerned, the candidates have shown encouraging results in pre-clinical studies, she added. – Financial Express


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