Govt permits export of 50mn doses of Covovax, say officials
The Centre has permitted the export of around 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine Covovax produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) as part of a tie-up with US-based vaccine maker Novavax Inc, according to people familiar with the developments.
Covovax has not been approved yet for emergency use in India. The government approval for the export of Covovax will help avoid wastage of nearly 10 million stockpiled Covovax doses which are due to expire in December. The vaccines were produced as part of SII’s agreement with Novavax Inc. for the development and commercialisation of NVX-CoV2373.
SII chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla earlier told HT in an interview that his company intended to keep Covovax and Sputnik Light, the first component of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, for exports.
“That is my sort of thinking and discussion with the government; and we are sort of aligned on that because Covishield is churning out enough volumes for the country… We do not need to increase the volumes; in fact anything more we make, we hope to export…,” Poonawalla said in an interview last month.
On September 20, India’s health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, also announced that India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, intended to resume export of surplus vaccine doses to “fulfil its commitment towards the world”. India stopped exports in April this year to accelerate the domestic inoculation drive at a time the second wave of Covid-19 infections exploded in the country.
A person aware of the details on Monday said SII is likely to start production of Sputnik Light, its second vaccine aimed at exports, either this month-end or early next month.
“We believe the manufacturing of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine could start anytime around month end or early next month as the company has got the requisite permissions in place and we have been made to understand that other requirements are also being arranged,” said a person aware of the matter, on condition of anonymity.
In his interview, Poonawalla confirmed the tie-up with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that markets the Russian vaccine globally.
“We recently tied up (with RDIF); we have done a tech transfer, I am told which has been successful. And we will start making some trial batches in a month or two,” said Poonawalla.
RDIF in the past stated that the partnership intends to produce over 300 million doses of the vaccine in India per year.