The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday said that they were relying on India for the production of high-quality coronavirus vaccine. WHO Executive Director, DR Michael Ryan, said in response to a question asked by IndiaTVNews.com during the COVID-19 press briefing.
"We rely on India. India has a massive capacity for vaccine production. India produces high-quality vaccines that are delivered all over the world," Dr Ryan said with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus by his side.
"There are some superb companies, both in the public as well as the private sector that are working already with WHO on developing vaccination solutions. We look forward to that partnership both at the public and the private sector," Dr Ryan said.
He further lauded India's effort in combating the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected over 5 million people across the globe.
"India continues to do a very good job in combating the epidemic and trying to manage and balance controlling COVID-19 with the economic and social consequences of that. It's still early for India as it is for many countries in South Asia," he said while adding that the WHO continues to provide support to the country in these testing times.
"We continue to provide operational, technical and scientific support to India from our regional office which is based in Delhi under the leadership of Poonam Singh, our regional director."
There are no shortcuts!
While answering the question asked by IndiaTVNews.com on the acceleration of the timeline of COVID-19 vaccine and its safety parameters, Dr Ryan said categorically said, "There are no shortcuts here."
"There are things we can do faster and better, there are things we can do in parallel. But there are no shortcuts on safety. There are no shortcuts on efficacy," Dr Ryan said.
"It is really important that when we say we wish to go faster, we wish to be as efficient as possible but still complete every step that is necessary for delivering a safe and efficacious vaccine."
The total coronavirus cases across the globe have crossed 5 million with the death toll at 3,29,731. Scientists and top doctors across the world are in a race to find a vaccine and medication against COVID-19.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist working with the WHO, shared further insights on the acceleration of the timeline of COVID-19 drugs. She said that while it is important to make sure that the steps taken to develop these vaccines are sound, it is also important to make sure that whenever we have the vaccine, it is accessible equitably.
"We have taken several steps in making sure that the methods that are being used to evaluate and develop these vaccines are robust, strong, scientifically and ethically sound. We are working to bring together different partners -- scientists, public health professionals, leaders and manufacturers -- to accelerate not only the development but ensuring that when we do have the vaccine, there is equitable access," Dr Maria said.
She further added, "We are currently mapping the vaccine candidates that are underway, that are in development. There are more than 120 vaccine candidates, and I'm sure there are far more than those we are mapping. Some of these are in clinical evaluation, which means they are being tested on people, while others are in pre-clinical evaluation."
Dr Maria also stated that some of these vaccines had started their development before the emergence of COVID-19 but all the safety criteria must be met before a vaccine can be delivered.
"For some vaccine candidates, we had a bit of a head start. Many of these candidates started their development before the emergence of COVID-19. They began with SARS and MERS. So some of them are a bit further along. But it is important that as these vaccines are developed, we make sure that they meet all the criteria to be safe and effective," she said.
"When we say accelerate the development, we mean accelerate this because there is an urgent need, but that does not mean that we will skip any steps to ensure safety. And merely having a safe and effective vaccine is not enough. We need to make sure that we have the production capacity in place so that when we do have the vaccine, we can deliver it to the people who need the vaccines," the WHO official said.