Dr. Kapil Maithal, President – Vaccines and Diagnostics, Zydus Lifesciences, in an exclusive interview with Indranil Chakraborty, Assistant Editor, Industry Outlook, shares his insights on the Indian vaccine industry, scaling up vaccine manufacturing, the road ahead for vaccine development and more.
THE GLOBAL VACCINES MARKET is projected to reach $125.49 billion by 2028. How is the vaccine industry developing in India? What are factors affecting the growth?
India is one of the major vaccine manufacturing
hubs in the world as we cater to almost 60 percent of the global vaccine demand. The major drivers of this has been the world class manufacturing
infrastructure, available talent pool, and highly efficient cost of manufacturing which are prerequisites for providing high quality and low cost vaccines especially to low and middle income countries (LMIC) where the disease burden of vaccine preventable diseases
is the highest.
After the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, we shed our image of just being a manufacturing power to now also an innovation driven industry. The major drivers of this inflection has been the significant push-and-pull funding by the government and support from regulatory agencies, which helped in fast-tracking research, development and subsequent commercialization of these vaccines which in turn has helped the vaccine industry to grow.
Moving forward, this momentum in growth can be further accelerated by continued risk sharing by the government in terms of providing funding and incentives to the industry and encouraging more investment in new vaccines where the risk of failure is high. Another important area to be prioritized is in setting up national centers for specialized testing and for providing curated, well-characterized bacterial and viral seeds for vaccine manufacturing.
Inconsistencies in the supply chain often imposts a great threat to the visibility and data centralization of the entire supply chain network. How can end-to-end supply visibility be attained?
Vaccine supply chain has greatly evolved over the years. One of the primary reasons behind this has been the continued emphasis on it by various regulatory and procurement agencies. In fact, UNICEF,one of the major vaccine procurement agency spends significant amount of resources in procurement of affordable and efficient cold chain equipment (CCE) for storage, handling, stock management and delivery of vaccines to the remotest locations. Similarly, GAVI, the major funding agency for vaccine supplies to LMIC across the world also helps in distribution, installation, commissioning, as well as on-site training on cold chain equipments to the countries under its Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform (CCEOP).
As vaccines are usually supplied in very large volumes, the packaging configuration for vaccines meant for most institutional supplies is usually defined. Over the years, there have also been myriad of technological advancements when it comes to vaccine supply chain including track and trace systems for real-time on-route dynamic logistics planning and monitoring and management of any In-Transit Cold Chain excursions. In most of the institutional supplies, vaccine vial monitors (VVM) are used, which will change color if there is any temperature excursion. That said, there is a need for consistent improvement in this segment as about 20 million children still remain at risk from vaccine preventable diseases in the world due to under or no vaccination.
Manufacturing process complexity arises from the need for rapid production and the prompt resolution of technical issues. Whilst traditional manufacturing processes are well established, these require time to scale up. How can vaccine manufacturing be scaled up?
Rapid scaling-up of vaccine production can be a challenge. This can be primarily attributed to the fact that vaccines can be developed using different platforms like whole virion vaccines, subunit vaccines or viral vectored vaccines and now we even have nucleic acid based vaccines, which may require very different type of manufacturing units.