Gagandeep Kang. Photo: YouTube.
For 75 years, antibiotics have been used against bacterial diseases. However, viruses have eluded drug development for much longer. The first chemical compounds showing promise in treating viral infections date to the 1960s and 1970s. However, it was only in the 1990s that the world experienced its antiviral ‘revolution’, with concerted global efforts on HIV/AIDS. The history of vaccines, of course, goes back to the 18th century; they were the first curative agents to be used against deadly viral infections like smallpox.
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of companies and thousands of researchers have been studying vaccines and developing drugs at an unprecedented pace.
Gagandeep Kang is one of India’s leading medical scientists. She has contributed to our understanding of diarrhoeal diseases, rotavirus epidemiology and vaccinology. She is the chair of the National Technical Advisory Group for Immunisation and the vice-chair for the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations. Here, Kang talks to Pavan Srinath on Bangalore International Centre’s podcast BIC Talks.
The Wire Science is republishing the conversation in partnership with the Bangalore International Centre.
On episode 18 of BIC Talks, Kang spoke to Srinath about ongoing drug development efforts against COVID-19. She discussed the challenges of developing antiviral medicines, unpacked the drug discovery process and explained ongoing trials for drugs, old and new, against the novel coronavirus.
Earlier, on episode 8 of BIC Talks, Kang had spoken to Srinath about the hundred or so vaccine candidates current being developed around the world against COVID-19. She also discussed the limits of existing knowledge about COVID-19, including of human immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Finally, Kang shared her thoughts on India’s role in global vaccine security, the ongoing public-private partnerships in developing cures and treatments, and national challenges.