“This region is a vaccine manufacturing powerhouse,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO South-East Asia’s regional director. “The manufacturing capacity that exists in our region is of the quality and scale required to produce and roll-out a COVID-19 vaccine globally,” she explained.
Leading manufacturers from India, Indonesia and Thailand discussed timelines and production capacity during a virtual meeting organised by WHO, while regulatory bodies deliberated on adjustments that would be needed in processes to make COVID-19 vaccines available at the earliest. But before this can happen, first pre-clinical and clinical trials, production, licensure, deployment of vaccines and plans for post-marketing surveillance are required.
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Globally the WHO has mobilized a broad coalition of scientists, researchers and industry partners to develop and evaluate candidate vaccines for COVID-19. More than 120 potential vaccine candidates have been proposed. The WHO tracks their type and progress. Seven candidate vaccines are already in clinical evaluation and 82 vaccines are in pre-clinical evaluation, WHO says.
Last week WHO launched the ‘Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.’ This brings together key health actors, private sector partners and other stakeholders to accelerate the development and production of health technologies essential in the fight against COVID-19, including vaccines, and to help guarantee equitable access.
Earlier a UN General Assembly resolution called for all countries to have “equitable, efficient and timely” access to any future vaccines developed to fight COVID-19.
India, Indonesia and Thailand are among the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers. “Every day, millions of people of all ages are provided life-saving protection by vaccines produced in these three countries,” the WHO states.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a unique challenge. But I am certain that through collaboration and innovation we can produce a vaccine faster than ever before, while maintaining all standards,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.