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Opinion

There has been absolutely no compromise in clinical testing of Covid-19 vaccines, says clinical scientist Gagandeep Kang

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In order to dispel people’s apprehension about the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, prominent clinical scientist Gagandeep Kang said that although vaccines for the coronavirus are being developed in a short period of time, there have been absolutely no no compromise in your clinical tests.

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Kang, who is associated with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, a global consortium involved in facilitating vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus, also said there should be equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine globally and nationally.

Kang, known for her interdisciplinary research on the transmission, development and prevention of infections and their sequelae in the children of India, is also the first Indian woman to be admitted as a member of the Royal Society of London.

Although the coronavirus vaccines are being developed in a “very short period of time,” all the clinical phases of the trials are underway, he told PTI in an interview.

“What has changed is the approach to testing where all the steps that used to occur between phases of clinical trials have been eliminated, which means that regulators are working much harder and harder than ever,” said Kang. .

Everybody talks about things being done very fast, but “I think it is very important to know what steps we are cutting and, frankly, in all the vaccine tests that are being done, there is no aspect of the tests that is is performing. out of the way of development, “he said.

“I think it is very important to understand that there has been absolutely no compromise in the clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines. The only thing we don’t have from these trials, which we could have had otherwise, is the duration of safety follow-up. Generally we follow the trials for six months or a year and generally we don’t find anything additional in the six months or a year, ”Kang said.

Kang, who was executive director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) but resigned in July, said that something else that is different in developing Covid-19 vaccines is that very large clinical trials have been conducted to get results. Faster.

To a question about the availability of cold chain capacity to store vaccines, he said equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines must be guaranteed.

The case should not be that those who live in large cities, where there is better cold chain capacity, get vaccinated while those who live in rural areas or small towns do not due to lack of storage facilities, Kang said. .

“My concern with all this is the question of equity, will we end up with a system in which we have freezers in big cities and some classes of people can receive vaccines, while in rural areas or small towns there is no access? to these vaccines? since the capacity of the cold chain does not exist ”, he said.

“Even in the work we are planning to do with the Lancet Commission, equity is an important part of looking at what services are provided to whom and where, and making sure that where you live and what your socioeconomic status is does not determine what kind of services you receive, ”Kang said.

The Lancet, a global health journal, on Friday launched the Lancet Citizens Commission on Reinventing India’s health system, which will work on developing a strategy to implement universal health coverage (UHC) in India.

The magazine and Harvard University’s Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute jointly formulated the commission.

Speaking about the Lancet commission, Kang said its purpose is to target universal health coverage to examine all health problems, analyze mental and physical health problems and their solutions, ensure that catastrophic health expenditures do not occur, and ensure that coverage is accessible and affordable.

The commission is led by four distinguished leaders in health and business, including Kang and CMD Biocon Ltd Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

“If we think about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have 2030 as their goal, there is no way we can achieve these goals with the trajectory that we have at the moment. So what we are looking to do in the next few years is try to devise a roadmap to make sure we are on a better path to achieving the SDGs, ”Kang said.

He said that in India, out-of-pocket payments for health care continue to be the highest in the world and it is one of the many reasons why many families fall into poverty. This kind of “catastrophic health spending” actually ends up promoting more health inequities in the system, Kang said.

“We have a situation where the most vulnerable of our population do not get the services they want and there is a problem in terms of accountability where the poor are treated as beneficiaries rather than clients of the system, and there seems to be a lack of confidence in the quality of care provided by the health system, ”he said.

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