Haffkine gets Maharashtra govt nod, ₹94-crore grant for Covaxin
After the Central government allowed the state-owned Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited to start production of Covaxin, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday approved the project that will cost ₹154 crore. It has also decided to fund the project by granting ₹94 crore.
The decision was taken in the state cabinet meeting The funds for the project will be given from the state contingency fund, officials said.
The Central government too has approved ₹65 crore for the project under Covid Suraksha Yojana.
“With the help of the ministry of science and technology, a project is going to be set up by Haffkine Bio Pharmaceuticals Corporation Limited at Parel in Mumbai for manufacturing Covaxin in collaboration with Bharat Biotech that has developed the first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine in the country. The state government will provide ₹94 crore for setting up the plant from the state contingency fund,” said a release issued by the chief minister office on Wednesday.
“With all the permissions in place, we will now start construction activity, get validations and take further steps according to our plans,” said Dr Sandeep Rathod, managing director Haffkine Institute.
Haffkine Corporation sought permission for the transfer of technology from Bharat Biotech in January, which was approved by the department of biotechnology of the Union ministry of science and technology on April 15.
Haffkine will be producing (228 million ( 22.8 crore) doses of the Covaxin vaccine in a year. The stock will be in addition to what other private firms will be producing in the country. It will take at least a year for setting up the project as is now required to develop a Biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory that is going to be developed at its Parel premises.
HT was the first to report on March 18 that the Haffkine Corporation has sought permission for the transfer of technology from Bharat Biotech for developing Covaxin.
Haffkine Corporation is a subsidiary of Haffkine Institute for Training, Research and Testing, owned by the state government.
“The manufacturing of the vaccine will be done in two phases — manufacturing of raw material which we called as drug substance and then fill and finish of the product. With the technology in place, we will be manufacturing the drug substance at our BSL -3 laboratory and as part of the next step the vaccine will be filled in bottles and the product will be finished,” Dr Rathod has said.
Saurabh Vijay, secretary, medical education department said that the state has also allowed the Haffkine Corporation to hold talks with other firms for manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine. “The state government has allowed the corporation to sign a privacy agreement with Bharat Biotech for manufacturing vaccine doses. It has also been allowed to hold talks with other firms manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine for expanding its production,” Vijay said.
He informed that the plant will be used for producing other vaccines once the need for producing Covid-19 vaccine is over.
Haffkine Institute is one of the oldest biomedical research institutes in the country. It was established in 1899 and is named after the scientist — Dr Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine — who invented the plague vaccine. Since then, Haffkine Institute has emerged as a multi-disciplinary Institute engaged in training, research and testing of various aspects of infectious diseases. It has developed an anti-rabies serum, anti-venom serum, oral polio vaccine etc.
To expand the production activities and to meet the growing demands for medicines and life-saving drugs, the state government bifurcated the Haffkine Institute in 1975 and the production activities were entrusted to Haffkine Bio Pharmaceuticals Corporation Limited, a firm fully owned by the state government.
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