Covid-19 preparedness enters ‘mission’ mode

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on March 04, 2020

The Ind-CEPI mission is intended to focus on strengthening infrastructure for vaccine development   -  PAUL NORONHA

Centre developing a strategy with the help of the‘Ind-CEPI Mission’

The Centre has held several meetings aimed at developing a “strategy for preparedness against Covid-19”.

“In the light of the outbreak of coronavirus, the infrastructure co-ordinating unit at the Transnational Health, Science and Technology Institute, supported by the ‘Ind-CEPI Mission’, has been assigned to develop preparedness with respect to diagnostics, a priority for a populous nation,” Jyoti Malik Logani, Scientist at the Department of Biotechnology, Union Ministry of Science and Technology, told BusinessLine.

The ₹327.92-crore ‘Ind-CEPI Mission’, approved by the Centre last March, seems to have come in handy in tackling the coronavirus attack.

The Mission, according to a background note of the government, is for “Epidemic preparedness through rapid vaccine development: Support of the Indian vaccine development aligned with the global initiative of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)”.

Aim of the mission

CEPI is an innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organisations to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks.

The Ind-CEPI mission is intended to focus on strengthening infrastructure for vaccine development through academia-industry interface, enabling skill development and capacity-building activities and supporting development of surveillance frameworks for use of new vaccines.

Additionally, the Department, through Ind-CEPI, has pro-actively partnered with CEPI to provide support for the Indian component of the applications received against CEPI’s latest call for “Proven vaccine technologies, applicable for large-scale manufacturing, rapid response against novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV,”Logani said, in an email response to BusinessLine’s query.

Tripartite pact

The Ind-CEPI Mission is being implemented by DBT’s Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). A tripartite strategy engagement document has been signed between CEPI, DBT and BIRAC.

The Department, through the Ind-CEPI mission, supports India-specific components of the “meritorious joint projects” received against various calls for proposals.

In the past one year, since the approval of the Mission, DBT has been responding to the emerging situation to support advancement of vaccine candidates and related technologies, Logani said.

She added that the Mission also provided financial support to the ‘Global Chikungunya Vaccine Clinical Development Programme’ (GCCDP), a collaboration between Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL) and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to advance the development of a novel candidate Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) vaccine, BBV87.

Further, CEPI has invited applications for funding to come up with innovative platform technologies for developing vaccines and other immuno-prophylactics to rapidly respond to outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases and unknown pathogens, known as “Disease X”.

The information regarding this call for proposals is displayed on DBT website to ensure that Indian scientists benefit.

Published on March 05, 2020

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