Coverage by Bhat Dittakavi of Variance.Ai on “Pandemic, Vaccines and Opportunities” moderated by Srikanth Tirumala of Hooper Labs

There are many vaccines being produced in countries around the world but there’s only one country that has the manufacturing capacity to produce sufficient quantities to satisfy the demands of citizens in every country and that’s India -Australian Ambassador Barry O’Farrell

Out of difficulties grow miracles. Out of challenges come the opportunities. Parties that are never to join hands, have joined hands. Proprietary processes and data is being shared for greater good in the backdrop of this prolific pandemic. Here is a session about something that is on every one’s mind in the globe. Effectiveness sand efficacy of vaccines make or break economies.

Srikanth Tirumala in conversation with Mahesh Bhalgat about Vaccines and the Pandemic

Srikanth) We are in unprecedented times. This is an opportunity to discuss Medicine discovery during modern times, vaccine development as a revolution and a paradigm shift in how we see sciences and technology. How is this pandemic and Vaccine supply chain different from the previous in recent history? Is it the most complex project in the history of mankind? How about the logistic challenges?

Dr. Mahesh) let us look it in its entirety. How do we collect and dispose syringes? How do we train and administer these syringes? Digitization all of this is a huge opportunity. The process is only available in 12 states within India. How does it all happen to make the logistics and supply a reality in a country like India.

Srikanth) This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs in India. Is it fair?

Dr. Mahesh) Yes. Absolutely.

Srikanth) Let us talk about the Speed of innovation? Vaccines take 10 years and now it is bundled into1. 10 to 1 in terms of speed? Is it real?

Dr. Mahesh) We are unprecedented time. Two large vaccine rivals have come together to put a vaccine in the market. See the amount of data sharing is happening. Within the first two weeks of January, the virus sequence is published and within the short time the vaccine is ready to be produced in the lab. Often times it takes time to recruit volunteers for pre-clinical, phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3. Moderna, Serum and all able to hire the volunteers very quickly as against 1.5 years for 5000 volunteers in case of HIV. Working in a crisis mode, with focus, with simultaneous work, working collaboratively and the money and investment pumped in. They are producing the vaccine while they are waiting for the approval so the supply is ready the sooner the vaccine gets approved.

Srikanth) Why do companies share data? Their IP?

Dr. Mahesh) The impact is way more than SARS 1 or any other, this shall lead to lot more sharing of data. Global Virome Project is building database of information. The effort is to let organizations and HNI people fund this. If this happens, it brings cohesiveness to manage in the future.

Srikanth) How worried companies are about cyber security threat?

Dr. Mahesh) It is a definite concern, got much more highlighted in COVID times. Couple of Indian pharma companies have gone through cyber attacks. Why is this happening is something like you in tech entrepreneurship shall figure it out. This shall bring the evil out. This is a constant fight with offense on upgraded defenses of ours.

How do we make sure every shipment, warehouse, material is secured? How do we secure the volunteers, patient confidentiality and more? We need these questions answered.

Srikanth) How do companies like Syngene partner with small entrepreneurs?

Dr. Mahesh) RTPCR kits require very specialized reagents in place. We bring our tech to the partners and make “Made in India” reality. We call them probes and primers, that go into these kits, that we let our suppliers make on our facilities and take them to market. We started looking at some proteins that need to be manufactured for other diagnostics. We enable our partnering entrepreneurs to do it. Can service provider such as cleaning do sanitization now? We let them do it. Let our suppliers expand their offerings. We ask them to help us develop apps for vaccination. What is the post-vaccination follow up? How about the co-morbidity data we need to collect? We are answering these questions as we go. Entrepreneurs can help.

Srikanth) How should we approach vaccination?

Dr. Mahesh) We may think vaccine is far away. It is not that far away. Hope we are production-ready for high-impact population. Planning is needed. Also communication and awareness is the key. Vaccine efficacy and effectiveness data is needed. Think about wearables as technology that can help us in efficacy. Vaccine effectiveness is about how many people take it. We need to create awareness programs. We will continue to wear masks even after the vaccinations. We don’t know the level of viral load that people carry. This is why we carry wearing the masks further. We need to collect data on all of this.

Srikanth) What is your Syngene’s philosophy in general and how you see Syngene play its role in these times?

Dr. Mahesh) Syngene is about making sure we apply scientific solutions. We need to lead that R&D space. Syngene works with customers outside India it means we do real cutting edge solutions to US and Europe business. We want to apply that in India so we can leverage the knowledge. We want innovation mindset in India and we want promote the same.

Srikanth) I am glad to know science is promoted in India and I am very glad to learn.

Dr. Mahesh) Gandhi said “The future depends on what we do today”. This is what we must stand by.

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