- They took pride in the fact that India’s healthcare sector has not left any patient behind and have responded to COVID-19 with 36 crore vaccinations.
- AstraZeneca is further studying opportunities in areas of long-acting antibodies and will share information on it soon.
- AstraZeneca scaled up very quickly realising the scale required in India was unprecedented and no single company would have the capability.
- They agreed that at the time of the second wave, India was lacking in testing capability because it was not anticipated.
Highlighting that India has set an example during the pandemic by not leaving ‘any patient behind’, healthcare leaders speaking at the 2nd edition of Gratitude Week, organised by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council, have hailed how the country’s indigenous COVID management ecosystem overcame the challenges to rise to the occasion.
“The biggest pride that I feel when I look at the last 15 months is that our healthcare sector has not left any patient behind. I am proud that we, as a country, have responded with 36 crore vaccinations – a big compliment to industry, healthcare workers and government for putting together one of the largest programs in vaccination. Our effort does not stop only at the vaccine, we are further studying opportunities in areas of long-acting antibodies as well which are under study and very shortly, we will share information on it. I think these times require unprecedented solutions and I am proud that the company, through its collaborations and values, made sure the vaccine was available at appropriate time and widely, equitably distributed as well as affordable,” said Mr. Gagan Singh Bedi, Managing Director, AstraZeneca Pharma India Ltd.
“Last year in April, we tied up with Oxford University for global development production and supply of their potential vaccine. Our philosophy was equitable distribution and not for profit. We had to scale up very quickly because we knew the scale required here was unprecedented and no single company would have the capability. In 6 months, around October, we had close to 3 billion doses across the globe with the number in partnership with Serum Institute where we tech transferred our technology and ensured that over a billion doses were potentially possible in a single year. While we were conducting clinical trials, we kept on making sure that these capacities were ramped up so that in December or January, when we received the emergency approvals, we were ready to supply like you have seen in India. We signed up with the COVAX to make sure that over close to 200 million doses will be contributed – our own capacity was of a billion and for the additional billion, we tied up in places like Korea, Thailand, Brazil and Russia. Through COVAX, we have made vaccines available in 160 countries,” Mr. Bedi added.
Speaking on testing capacity, Ms. Ameera Shah, Managing Director of Metropolis Healthcare said, “While building testing capacity, we have to remember that 45 to 60 days are needed to expand the existing capacity. If we are building a new lab, then it takes 2.5 to 3 months as all the equipment and chemicals used for testing are to be imported and one has to wait for the approvals and train the team too – training the staff takes 20 to 30 days. Proper training of the testing staff is important because testing for COVID-19 is not like other diagnostic tests like blood sugar. At the time of the second wave, we were lacking in testing capability because we were not able to anticipate it.”
“Healthcare ecosystems have played a wide role during the time of pandemic. Our frontline workers are working with all dedication in hospitals and there are millions of unsung heroes who are working in the background for discovery, production and supply which all these frontline workers require to ensure the health and safety of patients, including our scientists, pharma workers, medical device makers, lab technicians, chemists and many others,” says Mr Kamal Narayan, CEO, IHW Council.