India on Friday assured the people of Nepal that once it rolls out a vaccine against COVID-19, meeting their requirement will be a priority for New Delhi, amid a spike of the deadly disease in the Himalayan nation.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, addressing a lecture hosted by the Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA), a Kathmandu-based non-partisan foreign policy think-tank, said that India is “on the cusp of the availability of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus”.
“As the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, India is at the forefront of this effort. We have at least five promising vaccine candidates at advanced stages of trials."
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“I would like to assure the people of Nepal that once a vaccine is rolled out, meeting Nepal’s requirement would be a priority for us,” Shringla said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
He said that the year 2020 has brought with it the additional challenge in the form of COVID-19 pandemic and this has been the most globally disruptive event since the second world war.
Its devastating impact on society, and the economy is still being calculated.
“Through this period, Nepal and India have been together, we have suffered together and we have fought back together,” he added.
Globally, 60,559,702 people are infected with the disease and 1,424,470 people have died of the deadly virus.
Nepal has over 226,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 1,400 people have died of the disease in the country.
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