IIT Alumni Council advocates use of human-produced NAB to fight Covid-19

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on September 18, 2020 Published on September 18, 2020

IIT Alumni Council has advocated the usage of human-produced neutralising antibodies (NAB) as an immediate solution to fight Covid-19, as the world awaits a vaccine for the pandemic.

The council’s volunteers have concluded that a vaccine cannot be produced in time to control the death rate. Safety should not be compromised in emergency vaccine approvals.

“Vaccine without standard clinical trials is not free from risks to human lives. By the time a universally effective vaccine is ready to be manufactured consistently at scale and distributed universally, the pandemic would have wrecked massive damage – economic as well as to human lives. To save lives, an effective biologic human-produced NAB is required as an immediate solution for saving lives,” IIT Alumni Council President and Chief Volunteer Ravi Sharma said.

Numbers for mass vaccination in India make it an impossible, not just a difficult task. At ₹1,000 per person, vaccines could cost over ₹1 lakh crore. The final cost of vaccination can be two or times that of its factory price.

“The only sure and immediate cure that seems to exist is a hyperimmune NAB extract harvested from a real human being. In time, infrastructure can be built to genetically clone these effective antibodies in a high expression mammalian cell line,” Samir Kulkarni, Chairperson of the Research Centre for Engineered Biomolecules, a MegaIncubator initiative, said.

“Convalescent plasma therapy is only an interim step towards administering antibodies for three reasons – the donor may have other infections, the donor may not have NABs even though he has antibodies and the donor may not have NAB in adequate quantities. We have to produce hyperimmune immunoglobins – and that may be our fastest life saver,” he added.

Unless everyone is vaccinated, there is little to be achieved in immunising small pockets of people who may not be in any danger or may even be asymptomatic or non-infectious even if infected.

“Herd immunisation is gradually beginning to happen and maybe our best option. Dharavi is an example. In the interim, lives have to be saved. NAB is the only solution,” Sharma added.

IIT Alumni Council is the largest global body of alumni, students and academicians across all the 23 IITs and partnering Institutes of the India Innovation Network (I2Net).

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Published on September 18, 2020
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