Going Viral: The making of COVAXIN | Dr. Balram Bhargava | TEDxDFBEDU

Going Viral: The making of COVAXIN | Dr. Balram Bhargava | TEDxDFBEDU

COVID-19 Response in India

  • The first case of COVID-19 in India was detected on January 26, 2020.
  • The Indian government formed groups of secretaries and ministers to address the pandemic.
  • India faced challenges in obtaining testing kits and the virus but isolated the virus by March 2020, becoming the fifth country to do so.
  • India developed portable molecular testing kits and rapid antigen tests, achieving self-sufficiency in testing and exporting to other countries.
  • A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25, 2020, to curb the virus's spread.
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) became the center for fighting COVID-19 during the lockdown, operating 24/7 and collaborating with various ministries and organizations.
  • India evacuated pilgrims from Iran by setting up a testing laboratory in the Indian Embassy and quarantining them upon their return.

Treatment Advances

  • Before vaccines were developed, India made three major treatment advances:
    • Using corticosteroids and steroids
    • Using remdesivir
    • Using convalescent plasma

Vaccine Development

  • India conducted a serosurvey in May-June 2020, revealing that only 7% of the population had been infected with COVID-19, indicating a high level of vulnerability.
  • India developed its indigenous vaccine, Covaxin, through a partnership between Bharat Biotech and the ICMR.
  • Pre-clinical studies on monkeys were conducted to assess Covaxin's safety and efficacy, with monkeys captured from the Telangana-Karnataka border due to the lockdown.
  • A pulmonologist was brought in to administer the virus to monkeys for testing the Covishield vaccine.
  • After 14 days, it was found that the virus had not grown, indicating the vaccine's effectiveness.
  • India established two monkey breeding facilities in Hyderabad and SAS Nagar to supply monkeys for testing and research.

India's Vaccine Success

  • India's journey from receiving penicillin from Canada in 1947 to becoming a vaccine superpower supplying vaccines to over 100 countries was highlighted.
  • The government played a crucial role in vaccine development, setting up a national task force and providing timely support.
  • India's Universal Immunization Program, with a vast database and infrastructure, enabled the rapid vaccination of a large population.
  • A mobile BSL3 laboratory and drone technology were developed for vaccine delivery in remote areas.
  • India demonstrated its capabilities by delivering vaccines to a remote island in Manipur using drones.
  • The country's infrastructure, including an Air Force Base at IIT C, facilitated the testing and utilization of drones for vaccine delivery.

Overwhelmed by Endless Content?