The Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program (VAP) is a bilateral program, which supports a broad spectrum of activities relating to immunization and vaccine related research. The program was designed to encompass laboratory-based research, epidemiological studies, field trials, vaccine quality control, and delivery of vaccines. Under the VAP, U.S. and Indian scientists carry out collaborative research projects directed toward development of vaccines and immunodiagnostic reagents, or to address other issues which are important for vaccine research. All work is carried out within areas designated as priorities by the VAP Joint Working Group (JWG), which is comprised of scientists and officials from both countries. The JWG establishes the policies and scientific directions for the program, makes decisions on major activities, and provides scientific oversight and evaluation. The “nodal agencies” for this cooperation are India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) within its Ministry of Science and Technology, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, the JWG is co-chaired by Dr. Rafi Ahmed, Emory University, and Dr. K. Vijay Raghavan, present Secretary, DBT. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also is a VAP partner and the ICMR Director General traditionally co-chairs the JWG. The current DG-ICMR is Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who is also the Secretary of the Department of Health Research, within India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The Indian members of the JWG also constitute the "Apex Committee" in India and are appointed by the Prime Minister. As a committee appointed by the Prime Minister, the Apex Committee has the power to review and approve activities and projects on the Indian side. This, coupled with the "nodal agency" authority bestowed on DBT by the VAP MOU, has given this program an extraordinarily efficient administrative system through which decisions can be made rapidly. Many projects, for example, have been reviewed and approved in a few months and scientist exchange visits in as little time as two weeks.
Last Updated September 23, 2015