Gayathri Vaidyanathan in Nature:
As scientists edge closer to creating a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, Indian pharmaceutical companies are front and centre in the race to supply the world with an effective product. But researchers worry that, even with India’s experience as a vaccine manufacturer, its companies will struggle to produce enough doses sufficiently fast to bring its own huge outbreak under control. On top of that, it will be an immense logistical challenge to distribute the doses to people in rural and remote regions.
Indian drug companies are major manufacturers of vaccines distributed worldwide, particularly those for low-income countries, supplying more than 60% of vaccines supplied to the developing world. Because of this, they are likely to gain early access to any COVID-19 vaccine that works, says Sahil Deo, co-founder of India’s CPC Analytics in Pune, which is studying vaccine distribution in the country. Several Indian vaccine makers already have agreements to manufacture coronavirus immunizations that are being developed by international drug companies, or are working on their own vaccines. The government has said that these manufacturers can export some of their supplies as long as a proportion remain in the country.
Without India, there won’t be enough vaccines to save the world, said Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, during an online vaccine symposium organized by the Indian government in July.