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India will make HIV vaccine soon: Kalam

India will come out with an anti-HIV vaccine in three to five years, President APJ Abdul Kalam said on Tuesday, but asked the medical community to try and complete the job in the next two years.

health and fitness Updated: Dec 28, 2005 15:31 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

India will come out with an anti-HIV vaccine in three to five years, President APJ Abdul Kalam said on Tuesday, but asked the medical community to try and complete the job in the next two years.

"My feeling is that we will come out with a vaccine in three to five years," the President said in his address during the closing of an India-Africa project partnership conclave in New Delhi.

There were two candidate vaccines at present considered for use against a sub-type C virus that is most pronounced among Indian patients, the President said.

As part of efforts towards finding a cost-effective vaccine, experts have reviewed the vaccine candidate for HIV sub-type C in the pipeline, he said.

Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) based vaccine with HIV-1 sub type C (African strain) developed by Targeted Genetics Corp, USA was found to be in advanced stage of test in different parts of the world.

This HIV vaccine (tgAAC09) is now undergoing Phase-I trial for safety and immunogenicity assessment in healthy HIV uninfected volunteers at National AIDS Research Institute, Pune.

The Indian vaccine has been developed by scientists from the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in collaboration with Pune's National Aids Research Institute, and the US' Therion Biologics, he said. This, the President observed, was a recombinant vaccine containing six genes from HIV 1-C strain.

This will go into Phase-I trial in healthy uninfected adults at Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai during this year. Both these programmes are being progressed as a joint venture between the ICMR, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and the International Aids Vaccine Initiative.

Besides, a DNA-based vaccine and SFV vaccine were also under development, Kalam said.

Time has now arrived to take up this development in a mission mode so that an effective vaccine will be available for our countries within the next two years. Simultaneously, I would suggest that the medical community must start working on the development of anti-vaccines for sub-type A and B also, he said.

India and Africa can definitely work together in this programme, the president said.

In the case of private sector enterprises who have much more autonomy of operation, they should definitely be able to achieve higher level of results if they follow a focussed approach to project conceptualisation, formulation and implementation.

The President also described India and Africa as natural allies as he recalled Mahatama Gandhi's role in South Africa during apartheid. On the domestic front, Kalam said India was undergoing a major challenge of uplifting 260 million living below the poverty line and also to give better life for many millions more who he said were on the border line of poverty or just above the poverty line.

They need a decent habitat, they need work with reasonable income, they need food, they need speedy access to health care, and they need education and finally they need a good life and hope for a better future.

Economists, he said, suggest that economy has to grow at the rate of 10 per cent per annum consistently for over a decade for the uplift of people below the poverty line.

"We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for integrated action: agriculture and food processing; reliable and quality electric power, surface transport and infrastructure for all parts of the country; education and healthcare; information and communication technology; strategic sectors," he said.

The President said the country should lay emphasis on full utilisation of its natural and human resources. "We have already laid down a roadmap. The priority for the government is to convert the roadmap into various missions. It is to be done in a decentralized manner allowing a greater role for private enterprise and local initiatives.

The country has now embarked on second Green Revolution which will enable increase in productivity and diversification of the agricultural sector, the President said.

The second Green Revolution will have the farmers in focus, farming technology as friend, food processing and marketing as partners and the consumers as customers, he said.

From now on to 2020, India will gradually increase the production to around 400 million tonnes of grains, but increase will have to be done under the reduced availability of land from 170 million hectares to 100 million hectares with reduced water availability, he said.

Kalam said an estimated 7,000 units in the country were targeted under a Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) programme.

This envisages integrated connectivities to bring prosperity to rural India. These are physical connectivity of the village clusters through quality roads and transport; electronic connectivity through telecommunication with high bandwidth fibre optic cables reaching the rural areas from urban cities, knowledge connectivity through education, vocational training for farmers, artisans and craftsmen and entrepreneurship programmes.

Each PURA cluster will connect about 20 villages depending upon the region and population and will cost about Rs 100 crore, he said.

The President also referred to a government decision to allow mixing of bio-fuel with diesel, which has opened up new opportunities for employment and wealth generation.

He, however, observed that electronic connectivity for one billion people must transform into a network and provide a seamless access between knowledge creator, converter of knowledgeable products and the knowledge consumers. This can be achieved through the creation of knowledge grid, governance grid and PURA grid.

First Published: Nov 09, 2005 03:52 IST