Vardhan inaugurates CEPI centralized network laboratory in Faridabad

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New Delhi, Jan 5 (PTI) Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday inaugurated a CEPI laboratory at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) in Faridabad that would enhance the quality of services towards making vaccine and its acceptability at the global level.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics.

On the occasion, Vardhan, who is also the Union Health Minister, lauded the Department of Biotechnology and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) for 'working relentlessly over the past 10 months to develop effective interventions for combating the COVID-19 pandemic'.

'The CEPI laboratory will be a great addition to the ability of THSTI to enhance quality of services towards making the vaccine and its acceptability at the global level,' he said.

The minister recalled how the Indian scientists turned the country around from being an importer COVID kits and related products to an exporter of world class such items during last year.

Scientists, frontline COVID warriors and people in general rose to the occasion and fought the pandemic with focussed attention, he said.

The country is in the forefront of developing vaccines against COVID-19, and already two of the 30 vaccines have been cleared by the drug regulator for restricted emergency use. The rest are in advanced stages, Vardhan noted.

The Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology is implementing the Ind-CEPI mission titled 'India Centric Epidemic Preparedness through Rapid Vaccine Development: Supporting Indian Vaccine Development Aligned with the Global Initiative of the CEPI'.

Ind-CEPI Mission aims to strengthen the development of vaccines for diseases of epidemic potential in India as well as build coordinated preparedness in the Indian public health system and vaccine industry to address existing and emerging infectious threats in India.

The major focus at present is to help evaluating new COVID-19 vaccines, using standard analysis and same reagents in all laboratories so that vaccine produced has global acceptance and repeatability of the results.

The clinical sample testing laboratories selected for this collaborative vaccine network are: Nexelis (Canada) and Public Health England (PHE; UK), VisMederiSrl (Italy), Viroclinics Biosciences BV (The Netherlands), Q2 Solutions (USA), International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh (ICDDR-B, Bangladesh), National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC, UK), and Translational Health Sciences and Technological Institute (THSTI, India).

CEPI has approved costs of up to USD 16 million for this network.

All COVID-19 vaccine developers can use this network for free to assess immunogenicity of their vaccine candidate against a common protocol, using clinical samples from preclinical, phase one through Phase three trials, the Department of Biotechnology said.

Vardhan also released an e-book on science and technology solutions for COVID-19 that showcases the initiatives undertaken by the Department of Biotechnology for the mitigation of this pandemic. PTI PR NSD