WHO, vaccine producers in Southeast Asia focus on quick monitoring COVID-19 vaccines

New Delhi, December 11

The World Health Organization, national regulatory authorities and vaccine manufacturers in WHO South-East Asia Region discussed fast tracking of COVID-19 vaccine rollout in member countries, a statement said.

“The vaccine manufacturing and regulatory sectors have a critical role to play in equitable and efficient deployment of vaccines,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, at the two-day virtual meeting that ended on Friday.

The meeting deliberated processes and timelines to fast-track registration of COVID-19 vaccines in countries using the “Emergency Use Listing procedures” while comprehending the landscape of COVID-19 vaccine production in the region.

According to Singh, all the countries in the region were “developing and finalising” national deployment and vaccination plans for COVID-19. She added that regulatory preparedness was a core component of the process.

“Establishing expedited regulatory pathways for vaccine approval and adjusting regulatory pathways to the type of vaccine that is developed and filed for approval remains critical as emergency use authorisation will precede full licensure.

“While vaccine licensure systems may need to be modified, having standard operating procedures and stipulated timelines for emergency use authorisation would be vital,” Singh said.

While emphasising on effective coordination, collaboration and information-sharing, she said manufacturers, regulators, policy-makers and planners must continue to work together to optimise and refine vaccine deployment.

“Countries in our region are among the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers, and the vaccines produced here are likely to be administered to billions of people globally. I am certain that together, in solidarity with all people of the region and world, you will effectively contribute to health and well-being of all,” Singh said.

Participating vaccine manufacturers from India were India Bharat Biotech International Ltd, Biological E Ltd, Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Wockhardt Limited.

Other participants included, key global and regional partners such as GAVI and UNICEF, as well as vaccine manufacturers like Bio Farma Limited from Indonesia, and Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), Bionet Asia Co Ltd and Siam Bioscience from Thailand.

This was the second such meeting with vaccine manufacturers and regulators organised in WHO South East Asia Region, with the first held in April.

The expert group recommended that all countries should ensure availability of “high-quality, complete and timely” COVID-19 surveillance data on all risk groups, including migrants and remote or displaced populations, for decision-making related to vaccination.

The group added that countries should also leverage their experience in vaccine delivery platforms for adults, including experience with seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccination and Measles and Rubella and Japanese Encephalitis vaccination campaigns to find effective ways to reach eligible adults with COVID-19 vaccines.

“Adjustments should be made to vaccination strategies in accordance with the COVID-19 prevention measures and plans developed for demand generation, community engagement and risk communication, with special consideration for overcoming vaccine hesitancy.

“Countries should leverage the use of existing networks, including those for polio, to support the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines where appropriate,” the expert panel said.

It also highlighted the need for all countries to assess available cold chain space and meticulously plan cold chain requirement, including necessary improvements in storage, stock management, vaccine delivery strategy and waste management.— PTI

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