India, UK launch virtual vaccines hub for cooperation on clinical trials, regulatory approvals
India and the UK on Wednesday launched a virtual vaccines hub to facilitate the delivery of vaccines for Covid-19 and other viruses and to foster cooperation between experts on clinical trials and regulatory approvals.
Visiting UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced the launch of the hub, aimed at protecting people in both countries by enhancing cooperation on the development and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and better aligning the international regulation of vaccines.
The hub will also foster partnerships to develop innovation “moonshots” that can define vaccine delivery over the next decade. It will enable British and Indian experts to share knowledge on clinical trials and regulatory approvals and get vaccines to people who need them most in a safe, secure and energy-efficient manner.
The Serum Institute of India plans to roll-out more than a billion doses of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Unlike other doses, it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, making it easier and cheaper to produce, store and distribute.
Raab said, “This Serum Institute and Oxford University partnership demonstrates the UK-India relationship at its best – a vaccine developed in the UK and made in India, drawing our brightest minds together to save lives as a global force for good.
“A global pandemic requires a global solution. Scientific cooperation has made breakthroughs on coronavirus vaccines at record-breaking pace and the UK-India vaccine hub will now build on these innovations, to bring this crisis to an end and protect us all against future pandemics.”
Millions of doses made by the Serum Institute will also be distributed to the world’s poorest people via the COVAX initiative, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the vaccine alliance.
India and the UK also announced a new memorandum of understanding between the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency on more frequent discussions on bilateral vaccine and pharmaceutical regulations, improving standards and sharing information to control the trade of unlicensed products.
Raab, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday to discuss a 10-year roadmap for bilateral cooperation and collaboration on the Covid-19 vaccine, praised the Indian government’s commitment to equitable global access to vaccines. He also visited a Delhi health clinic where the AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered.
The UK has worked for equitable access to Covid-19 vaccine and has committed up to £619 million to COVAX to secure both the UK’s access to vaccines and to distribute doses across the world.
India supplies more than 50 per cent of the world’s vaccines and 25 per cent of the UK National Health Service’s generic drugs. Closer UK-India cooperation on medicines and vaccines approvals will ensure speedy access for the UK to Indian-produced pharmaceuticals and help safeguard supplies to the NHS.
Raab also met Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and agreed to work on mutual recognition of academic qualifications, starting with master’s degrees, over the next year. He welcomed the signing of a new agreement between the University of Edinburgh and Gujarat to open a new biotechnology university in the state in July 2021. This will be the first foreign university collaboration of its kind in India.
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