India, Belgium to collaborate on Covid-19 vaccines

India and Belgium have come together to work collaboratively to disseminate Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics across the world.

Distributing an effective Covid-19 vaccine to the entire globe is going to be the greatest logistical challenge the world has ever faced. This is the largest distribution effort in the 21st century and it is imperative that India and Belgium partner to promote vaccine cargo transports from India through the global hub of Belgium.

At the virtual seminar organised by the CII and the Consulate General of Belgium in Chennai to discuss issues relating to vaccine development and delivery, Mark Van de Vreken, Consul General of Belgium in Chennai, said Belgium and India are important trading countries, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) has stated that Belgium is on top of R&D in collaboration with industry academia and government. Belgium is the second-largest pharmaceutical exporter and the leader of vaccines and developments in the European Union. Belgium is an important logistics hub and has access to 500 million consumers.

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Rajesh Jain, Chairman, CII National Committee on Biotechnology, & Managing Director, Panacea Biotec, said, “We need to build partnerships between India and Belgium for the coherent dissemination of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics in Europe and across the world. The need of the hour is global cooperation on everything from raw materials to vaccine distribution.”

Vikram Paradkar, Executive Vice President of Technical Operations, Biological E Limited, said, “Vaccines have never been distributed at this scale in history. India with vaccine manufacturing capacity and the expected role that Belgium will play in logistics and supply, will make sure these nations will deliver.”

There however, are a few challenges like prioritisation of beneficiaries, supply chain management, cold chain management, vaccine safety, surveillance and monitoring and reporting.

Moderating a panel discussion, R Srinivasan, Former Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu BusinessLine, said, “It has unleashed a truly remarkable upsurge of global innovation, and for the first time it is a truly collaborative global approach to come up with a solution to the challenge in such a short time frame.”

Willem Dhooge, Co-General Manager, Flanders Bio, said Belgium remains the life sciences frontrunner in Europe. For three years in a row, Belgium has been the most important biotech destination across Europe.

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Belgium is a leading player in the biopharma sector and major banks are extremely active in the biopharmaceutical sector.

Gagan Singh, Managing Director, AstraZeneca Pharma India, said, “Covid-19 has shown us how a strong biopharma industry is an important pillar for healthcare resilience.”

The handling of vaccines is not new in aircargo and Belgian airports have good expertise and infrastructure, Nathan Devalck, Head of Cargo Product & Route Development, Brussels Airport Company, said.

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