COVAXIN The Success of India’s Indigenous COVID-19 Vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with ICMR and NIV Pune is a story to be told today. The Book Story of Covaxin, launched in Geneva according the author Dr. Balram Bhargava of ICMR , covers the entire journey not just of COVAXIN but also chronicles a bit of India’s fight against COVID 19 journey from the first case in January 2020.
The book launch was indeed a moment of pride for every India. The COVAXIN Book launch at the UNAIDS office in Geneva Thursday saw the presence of Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist; Dr Mariangela Simao, WHO ADG Access to Medicines and Health Products; Nana Taona Kuo, Senior Health Adviser, Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General; and Puneet Agarwal, DPR Indian Mission to the UN in Geneva.
The process of granting EUL to Covaxin is being pushed from one meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of WHO to its next — it was last taken up on 26 October and will again be considered on 3 November while the company has been submitting all the relevant information when asked and the review has been happening on a rolling basis.
According to ICMR officials, Dr Bhargava was in Geneva for a “health technology assessment meeting”.
The officials also stated that Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, was expected to be present at the event but he backed out because of the ongoing EUL tussle. “Whoever is saying Dr Tedros was to be present is probably related to the DG and has inside information that we are not aware of,” a senior ICMR official quoted.
The world is very interested in COVAXIN: The Book highlights the triumph of Made in India Vaccine by Bharat Biotech
The adjuvant featured as a cover of the international science journal iScience so people are very inquisitive. There is a perception that killed virus vaccines do not work well but we have showed otherwise. That is why the launch happened in Geneva,” Dr Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR.
India’s Bharat Biotech has been submitting data on the EUL of Covaxin “regularly and very quickly” to a technical committee which hopes to have a final recommendation to the WHO next week, a top official of the global health agency said on Thursday, stressing that the UN body “trusts” the Indian industry that manufactures high quality vaccines
Epidemiologist Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, founder of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, Dr Bhargava said: “You asked about what we would have done differently. We know the vaccine needs BSLIII facility and scaling up was an issue… About 85% of the vaccines used in India were AstraZeneca. But we will now see more and more of Covaxin.”
“Let me say that Bharat has been submitting data regularly and very quickly, but they submitted the last batch of data on the 18th of October,” Dr Mariangela Simao, Assistant Director General, Access to Medicines and Health Products at WHO, said at a press briefing in Geneva.
She was responding to a question on the delay in granting the Emergency Use Listing to Covaxin while Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac were given approval even “with lack of data.”
Simao said that when the technical advisory group met on October 26 to discuss the EUL for Covaxin, they asked Bharat Biotech for additional clarifications. The technical advisory group will reconvene on November 2 for the final risk-benefit assessment of Covaxin EUL.
She said WHO is in touch with Bharat Biotech and has “daily conversations” and calls and meetings “clarifying what additional data needs” to be submitted to the technical expert group.