Must learn to fight COVID without a vaccine, says CCMB director

Hyderabad: The director of Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Dr Rakesh Mishra asked the general public to prepare themselves to fight Covid-19, he seems to be unsure as to when would the vaccine come.

Dr.Rakesh asked people to focus on social distancing, mask and hygiene. He advised people not to eat anything before washing their hands.  

Speaking at the launch of CoronAid a mushroom based food supplement by a start up  Clone Deals, the researcher from the premier genetics research institute in the country on Thursday said that when a Covid-19 vaccine would be available is anybody’s guess. “Some reports say vaccines will be available by this year-end while others claim they will be available by middle of next year. I will like to be very clear about vaccines. We should prepare ourselves to fight this pandemic without a vaccine,” Dr. Mishra said.

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At present, all the Covid-19 vaccines that are under development across the globe are still candidates with a lot of promise but they have not become products yet, he pointed out.

“It has never happened in the human history that you do a trial and in the very first shot, you get an efficient vaccine. General public must realise that at present the vaccine candidates are all untested vaccines and it will take at least a couple of years to find out whether the vaccine is good or not for Covid-19,” Dr Mishra said.

Even if individuals get administered with a Covid-19 vaccine today, there are questions on whether they will have resistance to the virus after six months. “Never in the history of mankind, has so much of money and resources gone into development of a vaccine against a virus. However, people must realise that vaccine productions takes several years,” he said.

The CCMB Director also spoke about the logistical challenges that governments would face in transporting vaccines, if and when they are available. “Most of the Covid-19 vaccines being develop are RNA-based vaccines, which need a cold chain management of minus 80 degree Celsius in the entire country. It is a challenging task for governments to maintain that kind of cold chain across the country,” he pointed out.

Given the inherent difficulties in Covid-19 vaccines, he suggested that general public must focus on the concept of ‘social vaccine’.

“The Prime Minister and other top officials have already spoken about the importance of taking precautions. Covid-19 preventive methods like extensive masking, physical distancing and sanitising are already there for us to follow,” Dr. Mishra said.

On its part, CCMB is collaborating with other Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) affiliated laboratories including Institute of Medical Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh, and Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata, in developing vaccine candidates using three different technology research platforms. Leading drug manufacturer, Aurobindo Pharma will undertake clinical development and commercialization of the vaccines.

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