Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya on March 22 launched the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center and Workshop on Vaccine Cooperation through a video conference in India. During the inauguration, Mandaviya said, "Given India has one of the world's largest vaccine manufacturing industries which supplies vaccines to more than 150 countries and meets 65-70% of WHO's vaccine requirements, India is willing to offer its robust vaccine manufacturing industry for developing vaccines for BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries as well as the world."
Along with that, Dr Mandaviya also highlighted that this Centre will help to pool together complementary advantages of BRICS countries in vaccine research and development and boost the capacity of BRICS countries to prevent and control infectious diseases and provide timely help to other developing countries in need. It will entail basic R&D, preclinical &clinical studies and strengthen BRICS countrys' laboratory capacities to develop and standardize assays for testing vaccine candidates.
The Union Health Minister highlighted that the "BRICS Vaccine R&D Centre is a welcome initiative to collaborate with countries, share experiences, build collaborations for mutual benefits and accelerate the development of vaccine of public health importance.
Dr Mandaviya stated that WHO's R&D blueprint and International Health Regulations should be the guiding principles for this Centre and further proposed that "BRICS countries should work together to support endeavours such as ACT-A, COVAX, CEPI, etc., to achieve the WHO's laid target of vaccinating 70% of the world's population with COVID-19 vaccines by mid-2022." He added that "apart from pandemic and health emergencies, there is an ample scope of collaboration among countries like in the field of vaccine-preventable diseases with high morbidity and mortality and for those diseases with no vaccines available currently such as AIDS, TB etc."
India has also so far approved 9 vaccines for COVID-19 emergency use, of which 5 are indigenousElaborating on the country's capabilities and success of the world's largest COVID-19 vaccination drive, Dr Mandaviya said that India has so far administered of more than 1.81 billion vaccination doses. This wouldn't have been possible without a robust and favourable ecosystem of vaccine R&D in the country, he stressed. "India has also so far approved 9 vaccines for COVID-19 emergency use, of which 5 are indigenous. This also involves world's first of a kind mRNA vaccine Gennova that has been developed indigenously, and produced outside WHO transfer technology program".
With the support from the BRICS governments, each BRICS country has also identified their national centres, namely Immunobiological Technology Institute (Biomanguinhos) of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Sinovac Life Sciences Co. Ltd, South African Medical Research Council.
The ceremony was chaired by Mr Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, the People's Republic of China who urged countries to focus on promoting fair and equitable distribution of vaccines and to promote synergies among BRICS countries through this centre and other such initiatives. Apart from cooperation in vaccine R&D and their experiences in COVID-19 management, the panel discussed strategies to deal with future pandemics cooperatively among BRICS countries
The meeting was attended by Mr Marcelo Queiroga (Health Minister, Brazil), Mr Mikhail Murashko (Health Minister, Russia), Dr Blade Nzimande (Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, South Africa), delegates, senior representatives and research experts from BRICS countries.