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Soumya Swaminathan, former chief scientist at World Health Organization
Soumya Swaminathan, former chief scientist at World Health Organization

Not just vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics key to deal with outbreak of disease: former WHO chief scientist

ANI | Updated: Dec 06, 2022 18:42 IST


New Delhi [India], December 6 (ANI): World Health Organization's former chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that it is important not to forget the use of diagnostics and therapeutics in the treatment of disease even as there is a thrust on development of vaccines.
Soumya Swaminathan served as chief scientist at WHO from 2019 to 2022 when the world witnessed a once-in-a-century pandemic.
Delivering the keynote address at the two-day international meet on preparedness for future epidemics 'Is India ready to meet the CEPI 100 days vaccine challenge', she said there was no surety that a safe and effective vaccine can be developed in case of a future outbreak of a disease as was possible with COVID-19.
"While the focus perhaps is on vaccines here in this meeting, I think it is important not to forget diagnostics and therapeutics. Because the next pathogen will cause an outbreak whether or not a pandemic. We are not sure whether we will be able to develop a safe and effective vaccine successfully as it was possible for SARS-Cov 2," Swaminathan said.
She said vaccines against COVID-19 have been effective in preventing severe disease in people though they may not be able to prevent infections, particularly from new variants of Covid.

"It protects very well against severe disease and that's what is important. Next time we may not be lucky next time around to have a pathogen which is as easy to make a vaccine with," she said.
The goal of the two-day meeting, being held at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad, is to develop a roadmap for accelerating the concept, design, and delivery of vaccine development for any future pandemic.
Speaking at the event Department of Biotechnology Secretary Rajesh Gokhale said India's healthcare ecosystem is in transition as it has shifted from being a reactive care system to proactive with the help of vaccination.
"Vaccination is an important component of proactive health where you actually take care of vaccinating yourself much before you get sick," he said, adding that the government is working to develop various other curative therapies to strengthen the healthcare ecosystem in India.
The Department of Biotechnology, Gokhale said, is strategically trying to bring together, nurture and strengthen the bio-economy in the country through manufacturing and research activities. He said in the present environment, technological solutions have become a "weapon" on how countries prepare for any future pandemic.
Terming pandemic preparedness as a complex process, the Secretary said it is important to have scientific policies in place and have the capacity and ability to make an impact as and when required at an unprecedented pace. (ANI)

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