Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today informed that one lakh Genome and DNA sequencing has been done for COVID-19 so far by the Department of Bio-Technology (DBT) and 5 COVID19 Biorepositories with 57,000 samples were made available to academia and industry for R&D and Product development.
The Minister was presiding over a high level meeting to review the current status of COVID-19 research, development of vaccines and other protocols as well as the contribution made in this direction by each of the Autonomous Institutions of the Department of Biotechnology located in different parts of the country.
Dr Jitendra Singh announced that “A Vaccine Testing and Research Facility will come up at the second campus of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) and this center will also have a BSL 3 facility which is capable of handling airborne viruses like Covid-19. This facility will be the first of its kind in South India. The Minister also said that RGCB will be developed as a hub for research and testing of multiple vaccines such as cancer vaccine and those for infectious diseases, including Covid-19. “This will bring huge recognition for RGCB in the specific area of vaccine research and development.” The Minister also lauded the RGCB’s model of supporting both innovative research and Biotechnology incubation facilities.
Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Dr Rajesh Gokhale informed that taking note of the unprecedented scenario of the COVID19 pandemic, DBT prepared a roadmap early on with a focus on diagnosis, treatment and most importantly, prevention. It has supported 100 projects in the thematic areas of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, besides enabling 7 vaccine candidates by industry and 8 candidates by academia. DBT under Mission COVID Surksha also supported 5 vaccine candidates, 19clinical trial sites, 6 facilities for immunogenicity assays and animal challenge models and facility augmentation for Covaxin production.