Ramifications of India’s Race for the COVID-19 Vaccine

As of 15 June, more than 7.5 million lives are being infected by the novel Coronavirus virus globally. Hence, the race for the potential vaccine is also gearing up. According to WHO, there are around 10 potential candidates for vaccines in clinical development – four experimental vaccines from the United States, five from China, and one from the United Kingdom. Many countries are betting for an antidote to the virus, both financially as well as politically. And experts have speculated a constrained time of around 12-18 months for a potential vaccine to enter the market.

Ramifications of India’s Race for the COVID-19 Vaccine

As per a senior executive of an Indian vaccine company, among the countries, India is rationally well-placed to supply vaccines, which, once approved, will need to go through Indian manufacturers. Also, in order to pre-book vaccine doses by several countries, a strategy has been established by Geneva-based Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Gavi launched its Advance Market Commitment (Covax-AMC) for the Coronavirus vaccine. Covax-AMC is a financing instrument intended to produce adequate quantities of subsequent COVID-19 vaccines by incentivizing vaccine manufacturers. Besides, a UK-based drug company, AstraZeneca and its manufacturing partner, Pune-based Serum Institute, have steadfast 400 million doses to the recently launched Covax-AMC.

As of now, it is based on the Diplomacy of India to get a portion of the initial few batches of either AstraZeneca’s or any other vaccine, anticipated to be developed in the coming months. The procurement of which is entirely based on the political clout that the country has been able to create worldwide. The main objective emphasizes the equal distribution of vaccines among the countries, but its possibility is uncertain, as the purchasing power of each nation varies from one another. Therefore, to have equitable distribution, Gavi has planned to raise funds for its Covax-AMC, part of which will come from billionaire-philanthropist.

Gavi advised manufacturers to make investments in production capacity as it will not only increase the supply but also reduce the time required to license the vaccine, chiefly to the middle-and-low-income countries. But, some manufacturers believed that the “Advance Market Commitment (Covax-AMC)” is biased towards certain conglomerates, mainly towards rich country companies. For instance, as per the executive director of Serum, out of $1.6 billion of AMC, only $60 million will go to Serum, the rest of it will go to Pfizer and GSK, the big conglomerates. So, in the long term, several companies have to hedge their stakes against trusting on AMCs for funds.

According to an aid agency executive, India has made some correct strides in recent times. Even as a BRICS alliance, it can pool in assets to buy antibodies and do the impartial distribution. What India and the world need to accord upon is on accelerating and synchronizing administrative procedures. For instance, if India somehow managed to permit an immunization, it should have been tried on the Indian populace. Yet, for COVID-19, most specialists concur that worldwide administrative stamps, such as the WHO or the US FDA, are well enough. In addition, even after a vaccine is ensured, countries like in India, it is comprehended that the immunization won’t be accessible in the required amount for the entire nation. Thus, with the epidemiological data available, prioritizing sections of the population becomes obvious, starting with essential service providers and healthcare workers.

The equitable distribution would likewise rely upon the sort of immunization that is at last affirmed. Passing by the casualty segment, the older need the immunization most. Even now, the Indian medicinal services professionals are confronted with difficulty in choosing what for the process. But one thing to ponder upon these uncertainties is the fact that reveals more than 80% of deaths around the world are among the elderly. But in India, not all the elderly population will be diagnosed, but only half will be tested since detailing COVID-19 deaths involves convention and obligatory testing. Hence,  detailed deaths recorded will be lower, creating another problem for India to justify the need for the vaccine, which will be a complicated decision.

In conclusion, it is appropriate to say that India will have to gear-up its preparedness in terms of politicking and planning to stand firm in the race.