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WHO, vaccine makers discuss fast-tracking of Coronavirus vaccine rollout

Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region
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Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region

Highlights

The World Health Organization (WHO), national regulatory authorities and vaccine manufacturers in WHO South-East Asia Region discussed fast-tracking of Covid-19 vaccine rollout in member countries.

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New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO), national regulatory authorities and vaccine manufacturers in WHO South-East Asia Region discussed fast-tracking of Covid-19 vaccine rollout in member countries.

"The vaccine manufacturing and regulatory sectors have a critical role to play inequitable and efficient deployment of vaccines," said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

Aimed at strengthening collaboration between national programmes, vaccine producers and regulators in the region for Covid-19 vaccine deployment, the meeting provided a platform for interaction and experience sharing for vaccine registration, deployment and regulation.

According to Singh, all countries in the Region are now developing and finalizing national deployment and vaccination plans for Covid-19, of which regulatory preparedness is a core component.

"Establishing expedited regulatory pathways for vaccine approval and adjusting regulatory pathways to the type of vaccine that is developed and filed for approval remains critical as emergency use authorization will precede full licensure," Singh said.

"While vaccine licensure systems may need to be modified, having standard operating procedures and stipulated timelines for emergency use authorization would be vital," she added.

The Regional Director emphasized on effective coordination, collaboration and information-sharing.

From R&D to production, and from information on country readiness to post-marketing surveillance, manufacturers, regulators, policy-makers and planners must continue to work together to optimize and refine vaccine deployment.

Key global and regional partners such as GAVI and UNICEF participated in the meeting.

Among the vaccine manufacturers, from India Bharat Biotech International Ltd, Biological E Ltd, Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd, Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Wockhardt Limited; from Indonesia Bio Farma Limited, and from Thailand Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), Bionet Asia Co.Ltd and Siam Bioscience, participated in the meeting.

The expert group also recommended that all countries should ensure availability of high-quality, complete and timely Covid-19 surveillance data on all risk groups, including migrants and remote or displaced populations, for decision-making related to vaccination.

They highlighted the need for all countries to assess available cold chain space and meticulously plan cold chain requirement, including necessary improvements in storage, stock management, vaccine delivery strategy and waste management.

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