Govt stimulus package of US$122mn to aid vaccine development

The Indian Government announces financial aid of US$122 million in the form of a stimulus package towards COVID Suraksha: India’s COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission, in order to accelerate development of a viable vaccine to combat the current pandemic.

December 1, 2020

The financial aid will assist the Department of Biotechnology in development of viable vaccine candidates

The COVID Suraksha mission will adopt an end-to-end focus, from R&D and manufacturing to final deployment of the vaccine

5-6 viable vaccine candidates can reach advanced stages of development with this financial aid

The US$122 million allotted will enable a Phase 1 period of 12 months to mitigate the impact of the virus in the coming year

The Indian Government announces financial aid of US$122 million in the form of a stimulus package towards COVID Suraksha: India’s COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission, in order to accelerate development of a viable vaccine to combat the current pandemic. According to an official Ministry of Science and Technology release on November 29, this financial aid will assist the Department of Biotechnology in furthering their research and development efforts towards developing multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates in India.

The COVID Suraksha mission aims to adopt an end-to-end focus, from R&D and manufacturing to final deployment, that supports accelerated development of the vaccine by consolidating the funds and resources available to do so. The release stated that these measures will result in at least 5-6 viable vaccine candidates being developed, and will help streamline the licensing and regulatory steps required for its timely introduction to public health systems. Additionally, this will help establish protocols, training, data management systems, quality management systems, regulatory submissions, and accreditations.

The US$122 million allotted to the mission covers the Phase 1 period of 12 months, showcasing plans to aggressively mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in 2021. The Department of Biotechnology has supported the development of 10 vaccine candidates so far, with 5 vaccine candidates having reached the human trial stage and another 3 to join shortly. In addition, activities led by the Department of Biotechnology and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) under the National Biopharma Mission and Ind-CEPI Mission will further strengthen the COVID Suraksha mission.

A statement from Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology and BIRAC Chairperson outlined targeted efforts to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat mission by encouraging the development of indigenous, affordable, and accessible vaccines in India. Dr Swarup concluded by expressing her confidence in the vaccine manufacturing capabilities of India and the role it will play in global efforts to fight the current pandemic.