New Delhi: Countries like India, Indonesia and Thailand that are among the world's largest vaccine manufacturers from the South-East Asia region must play a lead role in overcoming the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," the World Health Organisaion (WHO) said on Wednesday.
Gearing up for the much-needed COVID-19 vaccines, the global health body organised a virtual meeting of vaccine manufacturers and national regulatory authorities from the region.
"The manufacturing capacity that exists in our region is of the quality and scale required to produce and roll-out a COVID-19 vaccine globally. This region is a vaccine manufacturing powerhouse and must now also play a lead role in overcoming the ongoing pandemic," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.
Leading manufacturers from India, Indonesia and Thailand discussed timelines and production capacity at the meeting, while regulatory bodies deliberated on adjustments that would be needed in processes to make COVID-19 vaccines available at the earliest.
According to the WHO, several steps must be completed before COVID-19 vaccine can be used on a large scale.
These include pre-clinical and clinical trials, production, licensure, deployment of vaccines and plans for post-marketing surveillance. Globally, seven candidate vaccines are in clinical evaluation and 82 vaccines are in pre-clinical evaluation.
"Mapping the full landscape of vaccine development activities in the region will help coordination with global stakeholders, and support countries preparing COVID-19 vaccine deployment plans, Singh said in a statement.
Member states, in a UN General Assembly resolution, called for all countries to have "equitable, efficient and timely" access to any future vaccines developed to fight COVID-19.
"As we mark the World Immunization Week, we must build on our success and redouble our efforts to ensure all people in the region can access the life-saving benefits vaccines bring," said Singh.