Second-generation vaccinations for COVID-19 are urgently needed: Parliament
In light of the continually changing COVID-19 virus, a legislative commission has emphasised the urgent need to produce second-generation vaccinations, support vaccine research on more efficient platforms, and assess the efficiency of existing vaccines for the disease. The Union Health Ministry must continue to work on producing vaccines that are variant-neutral and have the same efficacy against various strains of the virus, according to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health’s 137th report, which was tabled in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
It also urged the ministry to make available to the public statistics on the quality, safety, and creation of protective antibodies, as well as the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccinations.
The committee noted that Covaxin, the country’s first indigenous vaccine, operates on an inactivated viral platform.
“With the virus’s constant mutation, there is an urgent need to evolve strategies for the development of second-generation vaccines,” the panel stated. ”
As a result, the committee suggests that the ministry stimulate vaccine research on newer and more efficient platforms, as well as review the efficacy of both the existing COVID-19 vaccines.”
It reaffirmed its suggestion that the ministries involved engage with other national and international institutes on vaccine research and development in order to benefit the nation with the most recent developments.
The committee expressed gratitude to the scientific community for rushing to create COVID-19 vaccinations in record time. Given that the firm that manufactures the most vaccines in the world is an Indian enterprise, the committee concluded that India has enormous potential in meeting global vaccine demand. It was also discovered that there is a massive opportunity for greater innovation and research in the field.
The committee advised the government to enhance the budget for health research and the ICMR so that newer discoveries may be implemented.
*As a result, the committee strongly advises the government to focus on boosting the research environment in order to develop vaccines on newer and more scientific platforms,” according to the report.
It underlined that the government must incentivize multidisciplinary research and efforts to improve the country’s research infrastructure. The panel further noted the absence of provisions for Emergency Use Authorization under the New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019 and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. It lamented that vaccines were accorded EUA in the absence of any particular provision in Indian medicines norms and regulations.
“Laws in other countries are quite clearly established, which enabled the issuing of vaccination and pharmaceutical licences reasonably transparent throughout the epidemic,” it said. “However, in India, the methodology followed and the clinical trial outcomes of the immunizations remained murky for a long period.”
According to the panel, the mechanism for providing emergency or limited licences for pharmaceuticals and vaccines must be clearly established in the legislation. It also advised the government to include explicit provisions for EUA under Indian drug regulations. The panel expressed concern about the lack of clarity in the procedure for giving clearance to deliver booster dosages.
The committee would want to know about the process used and the legislation that were used to obtain the permission. The committee believes that careful scientific results must serve as the foundation for any substantial changes in vaccination policy. The committee also advises the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to conduct comprehensive analyses of laboratory and clinical trial data before awarding any future Emergency Use Authorization for vaccines,” according to the report.