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WHO chief hails PM Modi's assurance of India's vaccine production prowess to help nations fight COVID-19

World Health Organization's chief has lauded PM Modi's assurance that India will use its vaccine production capacity in helping nations fight COVID-19, saying the pandemic can be defeated only by mobilising resources for common good.

September 27, 2020 / 10:37 AM IST

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance that India will use its vaccine production capacity in helping nations fight COVID-19, saying the pandemic can be defeated only by mobilising resources for common good.

In his address to the 75th session of the UN General Assembly on September 26, PM Modi said that as the largest vaccine producing country of the world, "I want to give one more assurance to the global community today. India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis".

He said that even during these very difficult times of the raging pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry of India has sent essential medicines to more than 150 countries.

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"Thank you for your commitment to solidarity, Prime Minister @narendramodi. Only together, by mobilising our forces and resources jointly for the common good, can we end the #COVID-19 pandemic," WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus said in a tweet.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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Modi told the 193-member UN General Assembly that in India and the neighbourhood, we are moving ahead with phase 3 clinical trials in India.

The prime minister further assured that India will also help all the countries in enhancing their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of the vaccines. He, however, questioned the response of the United Nations in combating the pandemic that has so far infected over 32 million people in the world and will soon reach the grim milestone of a million deaths.

"Over the last 8 to 9 months, the whole world has been battling the pandemic of the Coronavirus. Where is the United Nations in this joint fight against the pandemic? Where is its effective response?" Modi said.

Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications at the United Nations, said Modi's assurance is a welcome news because UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had told the General Assembly in his address last week that "vaccinationalism" is not only unfair but self-defeating.

With the COVID-19 pandemic soon reaching the grim milestone of a million deaths, Guterres had chided those countries who are making "side deals" to have a COVID-19 vaccine exclusively for their own populations. "Such vaccinationalism' is not only unfair, it is self-defeating. None of us is safe, until all of us are safe. Likewise, economies cannot run with a runaway pandemic," Guterres had said.

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first published: Sep 27, 2020 10:37 am