Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India has suggested global harmonisation of regulatory procedures for new vaccines to fight pandemics of the future. Mutual recognition of vaccine certificates can only bring in vaccine equality, and such an approach is one of the key things global organisations like the United Nations, World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation and other policy makers and world leaders need to emphasis as part of global pandemic preparedness, he says.

Addressing the virtual Partnership Summit 2021 of industry body CII on December 14, Poonawalla has said governments should sit together to ensure that every new variant can be identified, and the effectiveness of current drugs and vaccines against such variants checked in less than a month for speedy action against such variants. “A single set of rules for clinical trials and manufacturing of vaccines should be made so that in a pandemic you don’t have a situation where a U.S. regulator or a European regulator or a regulator in some other country has different set of questions preventing the vaccine being registered or rolled out. This is what we call vaccine inequality”, Poonawalla tells during a live conversation with Rajan Navani, chairman of CII’s India@75 Council and MD, Jetline Industries, at the Partnership Summit.

Poonawalla says the biggest learning from the pandemic has been the realisation that one should not make forward looking predictions because things have been changing so fast with the coronavirus—in terms of transmission as well as the effectiveness of drugs or vaccines against the virus. “That’s one big lesson that CEOs and world leaders have probably learnt. And we are far better prepared, our health systems, hospitals, oxygen supplies, vaccines, everything; the world is now better prepared for the third, fourth waves, because we have learned what to do and what not to do. We are in a far better position today and I don’t think there should be panic with Omicron and other variants coming about. We should wait and watch as things unfold”, he says.

Poonawalla also wants countries to have partnerships with vaccine manufacturers across the world to have vaccine reserve capacity. “That’s what I have been discussing with a lot of countries, have a 10 years sort of arrangement with vaccine producers across the globe, to hedge your bet from vaccine nationalism to restrictions in supply, because I don’t think any country will want to be in the position it was in this year or in 2020”, he says.

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