Federal Minister for Food Security and Research, Prof. Kauser Abdullah Malik, emphasized the imperative for the upcoming government to prioritize the advancement of local vaccine production, spanning humans, animals, and birds, as a strategic move to fortify both the economy and the health sector. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the two-day International Conference on ‘Current Trends, Prospects & Opportunities in Vaccine Research 2024’, hosted by the Punjab University (PU) Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology (CEMB) at the Sheikh Riazuddin Auditorium, Prof. Malik underscored the need for intensified research efforts to develop indigenous vaccines for combating infectious diseases in Pakistan. Present at the event were distinguished figures including PU VC Prof. Dr. Khalid Mahmood, UHS VC Prof. Ahsan Waheed Rathore, CEMB Director Prof. Moazur Rahman, renowned scientist Prof. Dr. Sheikh Riazuddin, along with numerous scientists and researchers.

Prof. Malik recounted a critical scenario during the 2005 earthquake when a neighboring country declined to provide tetanus vaccines. This event, he emphasized, underscores the vulnerability associated with reliance on external sources for vaccines. Proposing a model akin to Independent Power Producers (IPPs), Prof. Malik suggested implementing a buyback guarantee mechanism to secure vaccine procurement. He highlighted concerns regarding the efficacy of imported vaccines, stressing that they may not be tailored to local genetic compositions. Furthermore, he advocated for stringent biosafety regulations to safeguard the poultry industry, citing the adverse impact of the soybean ban. Despite 80% of vaccines being imported, Prof. Malik asserted that significant local-scale vaccine production is feasible with governmental and private sector support, provided regulatory approval processes are streamlined.

PU VC Prof. Dr. Khalid Mahmood commended the contributions of Pakistani biotechnologists to agriculture and health sectors, emphasizing the pivotal role vaccines play in bolstering both human and animal health, thereby enhancing economic resilience. Prof. Ahsan Waheed Rathore stressed the necessity of providing comprehensive support for vaccine research and encouraged scientists to contribute insights into domestic vaccine development. Prof. Dr. Riazuddin reiterated his commitment to research initiatives aimed at bolstering the nation’s economy.

Dr. Moazur Rehman highlighted Pakistan’s heavy reliance on imported vaccines while noting ongoing efforts to develop vaccines domestically, particularly for poultry and other animals. He emphasized the potential economic benefits accruable from local vaccine production, citing the lucrative nature of the multi-trillion-dollar vaccine industry. The conference also saw the participation of 12 international researchers and a 7-member Chinese delegation from industry and academia, underlining the global significance of the discourse surrounding vaccine research and production.

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