MPP's executive director Charles Gore said most of the drug makers MPP is already working with to expedite access to coronavirus therapeutics are based within the South Asian country.
The role of generic drug makers in India will be “essential” in rolling out COVID-19 treatment to low and middle-income countries, said Charles Gore, executive director of Medicines Patent Pool (MPP).
MPP is a United Nations-backed public health organisation, which is working to increase access to life-saving medicines in developing countries.
In an interview with CNBC, Gore said most of the drug makers MPP is already working with to expedite access to coronavirus therapeutics are based within the South Asian country.
“There could be a significant role for Indian generic drug makers” in the fight to curb the contagion, Gore was quoted as saying.
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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.
Global COVID-19 tally crossed 5.62 crore, including over 13.49 lakh deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data at 11 am on November 19. In India, the virus caseload has risen to 89.58 lakh, while the death toll has reached above 1.31 lakh.
MPP is working with major drug developers to get licenses for their COVID-19 treatments, so that generic drug makers, like those in India, can produce “cheaper” but still “high quality” versions for poorer nations, said the report.
According to Gore, India has the world’s largest generic drugs market and has proven itself instrumental in distributing low-cost medicines, particularly to poorer nations, in the past.
It will be applicable for the COVID-19 pandemic, especially if these countries are forced to bear the cost of treatments and vaccines, Gore told the publication.
The executive director believed that the number of such drug makers will increase when leading pharmaceutical firms will license their COVID-19 treatments for mass production, as per the publication.
MPP was founded by Unitaid, which continues to be MPP’s main funder. MPP’s work on access to essential medicines is also funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.