SINGAPORE: Multilateral organisations like the UN and the WTO should take it upon themselves to harmonise the certification of vaccines especially ahead of another pandemic as witnessed one induced by the COVID-19 virus that has badly hit the global economies, CEO of Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla has said.
Making this clarion call at the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore on Monday, Poonawalla said I’m proposing it (such a certification treaty).”
“Multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation should take it upon themselves to harmonise the certification of vaccines,” he told PTI on the sideline of the conference, adding that “the world needs it if we want to be prepared in the future”.
Responding to a question on lessons learned from COVID-19, Poonawalla was quick to acknowledge the challenges of having such a proposal given the concerns of world leaders.
I will keep advocating for it (the proposal), though getting the world leaders to agree on anything is extremely difficult.
Poonawalla cited the example of climate-related treaties agreed upon by global leaders. They (the leaders) will have to take it up, and I’m sure India will play its role in leading such an important initiative.
One country can’t push it, he responded when asked if India could take up this globally important initiative. “There are many concerns that different countries have, given the diverse demographics which have to be taken into consideration.
He cited the obstacles faced during the supply of vaccines at border crossings. Vaccine certificates and clinical trial papers were not being accepted at the start of the pandemic.
Poonawalla also updated PTI on SII’s wide-ranging plans to further vaccine and health-related business for the good of mankind as well as diversifying his business.
He is seeking a partnership with a global group to bring to India a brand that can help uplift health insurance for the people. He underlined the ongoing investments in related businesses as well as one non-banking finance company in the country.
Poonawalla stressed the need to scale up the health insurance business in India through international partnerships, pointing out that SII had invested Rs 10,000 crore (USD 12,29,486 ) in the last two years of the pandemic in the capacity building compared to Rs 15,000 crore (USD 18,44,229) invested in the past five decades.
Such investments are needed to build capacity for any unforeseen future pandemic, saying it was important to be prepared ahead of the challenging environment.
He is focused on having spare capacity to produce vaccines for emergencies as was seen just in the past two years when India took on the world to supply vaccines to help contain the rapid infection of COVID-19.
Poonawalla is also going global with SII’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities and has worked out partnerships with Oxford BioMedica in the United Kingdom and South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare in Africa.
SII is investing 50 million pounds in Oxford BioMedica to help fund the development of a plant that manufactures COVID-19 shots.
An agreement between SII and Aspen is to support the African health systems to be more resilient and independent and help improve health outcomes in Africa in the long run and create a resilient health workforce that is able to address any future health challenges.
These two facilities will be used by SII to produce vaccines for the people where it is required most, he added.
He also listed out SII’s 50:50 partnership with Schott Kaisha of Germany for the pharma packaging supply chain.
In India, the cervical cancer vaccine, Cervavac, production will start by the first quarter of next year, he said.
This will help to save a lot of lives and will be part of the government’s immunisation programme.
Currently, there are more than 70,000 female deaths reported due to cervical cancer. The age to take this vaccine would be 9-26 years.
SII along with Oxford University is working on the Malaria vaccine and currently doing advanced-stage trials in African countries.
SSI will be looking at manufacturing around 200 million doses annually.
SII is building the world’s largest pandemic facility and construction of the 300,000-square-foot plug-and-play facility is currently underway in Pune.
Source: Press Trust of India