New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union Ministry of Health inked a pact with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), South Korea to collaborate on vaccine research and development.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of ICMR and Secretary, Department of Health Research, Manoj Jhalani, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Dr Jerome H Kim, Director General of IVI.
The ICMR in Delhi is the apex body in the country for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research.
With a long history of scientific collaboration with IVI, India officially became a signatory to the treaty of the Seoul-based organisation in 2012. The IVI has 35 signatory countries.
With this partnership, India is committing an annual contribution of USD 5,00,000 (Rs 3.20 crore) to IVI and joins Sweden and South Korea as financially contributing signatories to IVI, an official statement said.
The IVI has been partnering with Indian vaccine manufacturers, research institutes, government and public health agencies on vaccine development, research and training.
One of the most successful collaborations was with Shantha Biotech on the development of Shanchol, the world’s first low-cost oral cholera vaccine. The vaccine was licensed in India in 2009 and WHO-prequalified in 2011.
The IVI successfully collaborated with health authorities in Odisha to introduce the oral cholera vaccine for the first time in India in 2011, the statement said.
In addition, IVI has collaborated with the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata on research and training projects, including the establishment of a vaccine evaluation lab at NICED.
“India is a vaccine industry powerhouse that supplies 60 per cent of the world’s vaccines for vaccine-preventable diseases and 60-80 per cent of annual UN vaccine purchases (2012),” Dr Kim, Director General of IVI, said.
“The signing of the MoU is a continuation of our partnership with India to provide safe, effective and affordable vaccines for people around the world. We look forward to having India’s representation on the IVI Board of Trustees which will increase engagement with Indian academia and industry even further,” the DG said.
ICMR’s Dr. Swaminathan said, “We have been working closely with IVI in India for more than a decade now. We are confident that this collaboration will elevate the vaccine research and development capacity at IVI as well as Indian labs and further benefit India’s vaccine industry.”
Jhalani said the partnership will help better address vaccine needs of children in the country and ultimately contribute to protecting people from infectious diseases.