Bharat Biotech re-adapts plant to raise production

Updated on Aug 12, 2021 06:59 AM IST

The Chiron Behring facility was established in the 1980s to manufacture anti-rabies vaccines. In 2019, Bharat Biotech acquired it from pharmaceutical major Glaxo Smithkline.

Residents get inoculated with a dose of Covaxin vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus at a temporary vaccination centre set up in a school in Mumbai. (AFP)
Residents get inoculated with a dose of Covaxin vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus at a temporary vaccination centre set up in a school in Mumbai. (AFP)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech has repurposed its Chiron Behring manufacturing plant in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, to scale up production of its anti-Covid vaccine, Covaxin, said people familiar with the development.

The Chiron Behring facility was established in the 1980s to manufacture anti-rabies vaccines. In 2019, Bharat Biotech acquired it from pharmaceutical major Glaxo Smithkline.

“The decision to manufacture Covaxin at Ankleshwar, Gujarat, was taken several months ago with planning and preparatory activities. Facility preparations and production activities began in June. Vaccines will be available for supply in September,” said a person familiar with the matter on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, the Centre had announced its approval of Bharat Biotech’s manufacturing facility at Ankleshwar to produce Covaxin.

“Govt of India approves vaccine manufacturing facility for production of @BharatBiotech’s #Covaxin in Ankleshwar, Gujarat. Following PM @NarendraModi ji’s vision of #SabkoVaccineMuftVaccine, this will increase vaccine availability & accelerate the world’s largest vaccine drive,” Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had tweeted.

Close to six million doses are likely to be produced in this plant every month, which will push up the production of Covaxin close to 60 million doses a month around the last quarter of this year.

Currently, doses from Bharat Biotech’s Hyderabad facility are being supplied for the country’s Covid-19 immunisation programme. Apart from the Gujarat facility, Bharat Biotech has also refurbished its Malur plant in Karnataka to produce Covaxin doses to scale up production.

With a couple of other public sector undertakings also being roped in for manufacturing Covaxin doses, the production number of Covaxin is projected to increase from the current 25 million doses a month to at least 58 million doses, according to the government.

According to Bharat Biotech, each batch of Covaxin undergoes over 200 quality control tests before being submitted to Central Drugs Laboratory for testing. The company has so far supplied at least 70 million doses for the national immunisation programme.

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