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Jitendra Singh calls for equal stake participation by industry to sustain start-ups

New Delhi [India]: Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh called for equal stake participation by industry to sustain startups, the Ministry of Science and Technology said on Saturday.

The Union Minister was speaking at the ceremony to sign an Agreement between the Technology Development Board (TDB) of the Ministry of Science and Technology and M/s Sapigen Biologix Private Limited, Hyderabad helmed by Dr Krishna Ella of Bharat Biotech Ltd for the development and commercialization of two novel vaccines - "Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine and RTS, S Malaria Vaccine".

There will be an equal stake for both sides with each side contributing Rs 200 crore respectively for ensuring sustainable startups.

The union minister said that this initiative will ensure equal stake with equal partnership and responsibility for the industry for sustainable startups.

He said that the vaccine strategy of India symbolises Prime Minister Narendra Modi's idea of an Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

India's vaccine strategy brings pharma, industry and academia together in a partnership with an eye on meeting the current as well as possible future challenges, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, he said.

The Union Minister said that the idea behind initiatives like this is to have a sustainable partnership in the long run and provide a sustainable source of livelihood to India's youth.

Singh further said this is not only an agreement of equal stake and partnership but also equal social responsibility.

He termed it as a new beginning in India's vaccine strategy and expressed hope that it will give further impetus to research and development in the country.

The Minister noted that within only a couple of years of the pandemic, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has been able to develop its own indigenous vaccines.

It has also shown the technology absorption capacity to support manufacturing of nearly all the COVID vaccines that have been developed, that too in a cost-effective manner, thus emerging as the "pharmacy of the world", he added.

As of March 2021, India exported 5.84 crore doses of COVID vaccines to 70 countries. This has been possible due to the availability of low-cost skilled manpower and a well-established manufacturing ecosystem, the minister said in a press statement.

As per the release, Technology Development Board and Bharat Biotech have pledged the support of Rs 200 crore each to create a continuous corpus of Rs 400 crores for the development and commercialization of two novel vaccines-Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine" and "RTS, S Malaria Vaccine".

The company aims to set up a state-of-the-art cGMP facility in Bhubaneswar, in compliance with the latest global standards, for manufacturing Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine and (RTS, S) Malaria Vaccine initially and later expand the product portfolio by adding other vaccines.

The two vaccines to be developed and commercialised are Nasal Coronavirus vaccine: In contrast to the Intramuscular (IM) coronavirus vaccine currently in use, the intra nasal vaccine can generate mucosal immune response thereby protecting both the upper and lower respiratory system of a vaccinated individual and break the cycle of infection and transmission.

The present project uses the technology platform developed by Washington University, School of Medicine in St Louis for the SARS-COV-2 chimpanzee adenovirus in inactivating or killing virus form.

This platform has several advantages: These vaccines express surface antigens that retain their epitope conformations to play an important role in inducing strong preventative humoral responses, especially with reference to SARS-CoV-2.

Secondly, RTS, S Malaria Vaccine: In view of the public health potential, World Health Organization WHO's top advisory bodies for malaria and immunization have jointly recommended the phased introduction of the vaccine in selected areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

Three countries - Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi - began introducing the vaccine in selected areas of moderate and high malaria transmission in 2019.

Vaccinations are being provided through each country's routine immunization program. As per the forecast of GAVI, the demand for malaria vaccines would be 75 million doses by 2035.

Both the Vaccines are novel and will come under the ambit of commercial production for the first time, the release added further.

The company aims to produce 100 million doses/annum of intranasal Covid-19 vaccine by April 2023 and 15 million doses/ annum RTS, S Malaria vaccine by the end of April 2025.

On this occasion, Rajesh Kumar Pathak, Secretary, TDB said that this will be a continuous corpus and the idea has been translated into reality today.

The Indian pharma companies, not only provide the yeoman service to the nation but also are instrumental in providing the medicines and vaccines at an affordable cost to the entire world and thus transforming India as "The Pharmacy of the World", he said. (ANI)

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