'India's vaccine producers are India's gift to the world': Texas-India vaccine diplomacy announces Covid vaccine at $1.5 per dose

The Texas-India vaccine diplomacy, a collaboration for shared global health between Indian pharmaceutical company Biological E and the Texas Children''s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, has led to the development of a cost-efficient vaccine against COVID-19 for USD 1.50 per dose, according to a top American scientist

Nov 02, 2021
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India's vaccine

The Texas-India vaccine diplomacy, a collaboration for shared global health between Indian pharmaceutical company Biological E and the Texas Children''s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, has led to the development of a cost-efficient vaccine against COVID-19 for USD 1.50 per dose, according to a top American scientist. Addressing the annual 2021 gala of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) over the weekend, Dr Peter Hotez, Dean National School of Tropical Medicine, professor of pediatrics, molecular virology and molecular biology, at Baylor College of Medicine, said the collaboration has led to the development of the low-cost people''s vaccine in record times.

It will help vaccinate the world's low-income countries in the coming months to fill the 9 billion gap, Hotez was quoted by PTI news agency as saying. 

"The COVID-19 vaccine, which will be released for emergency use in India soon, will produce 100 million doses per month. It has been tough, but the most fulfilling activity I've ever been involved with," he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) respects the Biological E, he said.

"It mentioned, once a vaccine is released in India, we will most likely move pretty close to do emergency assistance for global usage, so the world can benefit from it as well," Hotez said.

"Our shared goal is to make this vaccine available not only for India, but all of the world's low- and middle-income countries as a means to end the pandemic," Hotez said in his keynote address.

"We are being contacted by various middle-income countries in Asia and Africa, and working to transfer our production cell bank to them or have them work directly through Bio-E," he said.

Hotez said that this adventure would never have happened without the brilliance of Indian scientists and various Texas philanthropists, including Texas Children Hospital and M D Anderson Foundation, who raised USD 7 million for vaccine development.

Hotez said, "India's vaccine producers are actually "India's gift to the world".

For decades, producers like the Serum Institute of India, Biological E and Bharat Biotech have established the unique ecosystem needed to provide vaccines for measles, whooping cough, and tetanus to the world's low- and middle-income countries, he said.

"Since our vaccine uses an older yeast fermentation technology, we needed a manufacturing partner who could do this under a quality umbrella and without failure. It wasn't easy to find one, but the answer was only India after we were connected to Biological E, through mutual colleagues, who work with the Gates Foundation," he said.

"We worked together to co-develop the vaccine, which in clinical trials looked great, potentially offering protection as good as mRNA vaccines but for a fraction of the price USD 1.50 per dose, and simple refrigeration and easy to administer," he said.

"There are over 1 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa, 650 million in Latin America, another 1 billion people in smaller, low-income Asian countries, who need to be vaccinated badly.

India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who was the chief guest at the gala, highlighted the deepening of the strategic relationship between India and the US.

"US global strategic partnership continues to grow from strength to strength, the landmark visit of the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) for the India-US bilateral summit and the first in-person Quad Leaders'' Summit recently is a testament to the enduring ties between the two countries," Sandhu said.

(SAM)