India is a vaccine powerhouse in terms of its manufacturing capacity. India’s vaccine companies began engaging with global biomedical research groups and small and large companies for partnerships to make SARS-CoV2 vaccines in May 2020 and had two products approved for restricted use approval in January 2021. Many other products on multiple platforms are in the pipeline. Permissions have been granted for import of vaccines without further testing, but addressing the gap between supply and demand will continue to be an issue for a few more months.
India began its vaccine roll-out in January 2021, shortly after many wealthy countries, but has had issues in several areas of policy and practice. The decisions around implementation, sourcing and pricing have been remarkable in their decoupling from considerations of equity or capacity. As examples, the rapidity of descent across age groups, and the changing guidance on gaps between doses without simultaneous attention to surveillance and measurement of real world performance of vaccines, have indicated a lack of commitment to science based design of vaccination strategies. Solutions must be found, and stakeholders in states and at smaller scales are attempting to rationalise approaches within current constraints.
PROF GAGANDEEP KANG
Professor Gagandeep Kang is the first Indian woman scientist to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society since its inception in 1660.
She is Professor of Microbiology, at the Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Division of Gastrointestinal Sciences at the Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore. She has worked on the development and use of vaccines for rotaviruses, cholera and typhoid, conducting large studies to define burden, test vaccines and measure their impact.
She is a member of the several advisory committees for the WHO, mainly related to research and use of vaccines. She is Chair of the WHO SEAR Immunization Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, Vice-Chair of the Board of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and a Wellcome Trust nominated Board Member of Hilleman Laboratories, which is a partnership to support development affordable vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.