Hyderabad, Feb 24 (PTI): Though the scientific achievement with regards to tackling COVID-19 pandemic is commendable, there was lack of global coordination on some of the issue and several countries did not abide by the framework put out by the World Health Organisation, Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of WHO said on Thursday.
Speaking at a panel discussion as part of BioAsia 2022, she said though over 70 per cent of people in high income countries vaccinate against less than 10 per cent of people in African countries even as there was ease on vaccine supply side globally.
“I think while the scientific achievements have been absolutely outstanding such as vaccines in less than a year and a lot of progress on diagnostics, self-test kits and antivirals, technology and the genomic surveillance which has allowed us to track the evolution of the virus – but where we fell short was a global coordination the harmonised way of approaching the pandemic,” she said.
Referring to the reaction to travel restrictions on South Africa when a new variant of COVID-19 was found, she said those kind of restrictions will not help during pandemics.
The WHO chief scientist further said though the world has passed over the phase of acute supply shortage that was seen throughout 2021, the challenge is going to be massive as there are many countries which are not able to mount the kind of massive vaccination programmes.
“Even though WHO put out a framework for equitable healthcare access and share them equitably, countries did not play by that and each country was trying to look after itself which has resulted in over 70 per cent of people in high income countries vaccinate against less than 10 per cent of people in African countries,” she said.
According to her, countries are now discussing a treaty for a pandemic agreement for binding principles or agreements on how countries must act.
She also said the WHO is working on scenarios where variant-proof vaccines are developed and suggested that there is a need for a distributed manufacturing network across the globe.
Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog who also participated in the panel discussion opined that the government needs to incentivise the research and development and also sectors such as biopharma in a big way to help India transition from a low value, high-volume player to a high value, high volume player in the global pharma market.
“We are examining ways to strengthen the system for and push for greater industry-academia collaborations. There is a need to promote innovation, global partnerships and knowledge sharing amongst our scientific community,” he said.
Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech International Limited said some of the regulatory processes should be simplified in order to act fast on product development. PTI GDK GDK SS SS
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Source: The Print