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Vaccine Grand Challenge Programme (VGCP)

 VGCP encourages novel and innovative vaccine related discoveries, accelerated development of candidate vaccines for which earlier leads are available, research of basic & applied nature to improvise our current understanding of vaccine science and strengthens the scientific basis for future vaccine design.

Genesis

DBT initiated a programme to develop vaccines under the 10th Five Year Plan (2001 to 2006) through National Jai Vigyan Mission Programme on S&T for generation of new vaccines.

As its outcome, several candidate vaccines emerged such as for malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, and dengue. During the review of 10th Five Year Plan, several weaknesses were identified in the programme. These served as barriers for technology/product development.

These were

  • too much time taken on each phase of activity
  • ineffective accelerated product development
  • underestimation of resources required
  • paucity of funds with industry for continuing investment
  • lack of public private partnership mechanism in DBT in the past
  • regulatory complicity to get FDA and DCGI approvals with strong financial implications
  • competition from global companies
  • lack of preclinical and clinical development skills in SMEs engaged in vaccine work
  • inability to financially support industry R&D substantially
  • inability to engage problem solving consultants due to their high fees

To accelerate efforts for development of candidate vaccines through GMP product formulation, preclinical and clinical trials, The ‘Vaccine Grand Challenge Programme’ ‑ an improved version of the Jai Vigyan Mission ‑ was evolved in 2009, with an attempt to overcome/address most of the above identified deficiencies.

Implementation

It is devoted to address the vaccine and related, needs of India’s public health system especially for national immunisation programme. It focuses on development of cost effective vaccines and vaccine delivery systems. It would be accomplished through accelerating development of already available leads, as well as through new candidate development. Its other aim is to create an enabling infrastructure to serve public sector and SME needs.It also provides enabling support to concerned agencies for diffusion of the technologies into the social systems.

Finally, it attempts to develop cost reduction strategies for existing products. A rapid review process and flexible funding system has been evolved for swift funding to scientists who are pursuing their novel ideas that could lead to breakthroughs in national and global health, as well as to accelerate development of existing leads.

Monitoring and Mentoring

The programme is under implementation since 2008-09. VGCP is governed through the Apex Technical Committee (ATC) appointed by the Department. The ATC-VGCP has enormous powers, as it can support funding in various models (Such as COE’s, R&D projects for 3-7 years, infrastructure grant, nascent grants for project writing, grants for workshops).

Projects are being monitored through a well-established committee process. Scientific and technical progress reports get evaluated through the ATC-VGCP and Project Monitoring Committees (PMC).For efficient monitoring of major vaccine projects, PMC have been constituted for dengue, malaria, tuberculosis and cholera vaccine projects. The PMC will evaluate the projects every six months and provide detailed evaluation to ATC-VGCP.