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India has a history of bringing out successful vaccines’

Representative. Credit: PTI Photo

Principal Scientific Adviser K Vijay Raghavan on Saturday said India has an extraordinary history of bringing out successful vaccines which have transformed the health care system, similar to that for smallpox, “which were administered without much discussion.”

The investments made for vaccines does not mean shortcuts and huge investments in vaccination trials have enabled processes to happen in parallel to speed up the development, he said, participating in a function through video conference.

“Vaccines are administered to healthy people. Therefore, the demand for trials and safety are enormous. A vaccine that is administered has to be safe, has to have an immune response that suggests it can deal with the infection and must be effective in the field”, he said at ‘Sangam 2020,’ the annual flagship event of IIT Madras Alumni Association.

“India has got an extraordinary history of successful vaccinations… India was successful in putting forth vaccines which completely transformed the health care system. Other vaccines like smallpox were administered without much discussion… today the world has changed and everyone rightly discusses and debates everything, as it should be,” he said.

His comments come at a time when 30 vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are being developed within the country. Five vaccine candidates are under different phases of clinical trials in India. Vijay Raghavan said vaccines are subjected to stringent tests.

“Typically, vaccines take 10 years to develop,” he said. “There has been a huge amount of investment and investment comes by allowing what could otherwise have gone in series to now go in parallel. You stockpile and manufacture while the trials are going on.. but supposing the trials fail, the whole stockpile has to be dumped”, he said.

IIT Madras director professor Bhaskar Ramamurthi, speaking on the new normal in education and research in the backdrop of Covid-19 induced lockdown, said 40 per cent of students could not join the classes initially.

“Now we are able to make sure everybody is able to attend classes, barring a handful and those cases also have been resolved now”, he said.