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Covaxin output to increase to 58mn doses per month, RS told

Bharat Biotech aims to increase the production capacity of Covaxin, its anti Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, to 58 million (5
By Rhythma Kaul, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 20, 2021 11:45 PM IST

Bharat Biotech aims to increase the production capacity of Covaxin, its anti Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, to 58 million (5.8 crore) from the existing 25 (2.5 crore) million doses per month, replied minister of state (health), Bharati Pravin Pawar in parliament on Tuesday.

The figures fall short of what the government announced earlier as part of Covaxin production scale up.

On April 16, the ministry of science and technology in a statement announced that it would help double the production capacity of India’s first make-in-India Covid-19 vaccine by May-June, 2021, from the existing 10 million doses per month, and with a target set of helping produce nearly 100 million doses per month by September 2021.

“As part of Bharat Biotech’s expansion plan for Covaxin production, they added their facilities in Ankleshwar in Gujarat and Bengaluru, apart from their already functional Hyderabad facility that is producing Covaxin. The Ankleshwar plant is moving towards vaccine production as per the original schedule; but the Bengaluru facility faced some difficulties in operationalisation that led to the lag in Covaxin supplies. The production fell slightly behind of what was initially expected but now, we have been told, that the glitches have been sorted. These are unforeseen circumstances that crop up while executing such highly technical projects that involve tackling live viruses. But now they are on track,” said Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, during Union health ministry’s Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on Tuesday.

He added that the vaccine supplies were in the process of being ramped up, and till such time that happens, states need to plan their drive accordingly.

“The supply if vaccines and the implementation of vaccination drive is an inter-related process; the state governments are informed in advance about the amount of vaccine that will be available in the coming two weeks. All states are expected to plan their drive accordingly. Sometimes there can crop up issues in coordination, as there could be slight variation in the volume of batches released by the central drugs laboratory in Kasauli that we get to know in real-time,” he added.

Pawar, while replying to a question in Rajya Sabha on Covid-19 vaccine supplies, also said that as communicated by the manufacturer, Serum Institute of India (SII) will also increase monthly Covishield vaccine production capacity from the current 110 million (11 crore) doses per month to at least 120 million (12 crore) doses per month.

From January, 2021, to July 16, 2021, 360 million (36.01 crore) doses of Covishield have been supplied by SII, 54.5 million (5.45 crore) doses of Covaxin have been supplied by Bharat Biotech for the National Covid Vaccination Programme.

Also, a total of 3.3 million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V (3 million first component and 0.3 million second component) have been imported till July 14 this year.

Giving details of the MoU between Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Bharat Biotech for Covaxin, Pawar said that it’s a non-exclusive license granted to commercialize the product within 2 year period.

“Royalty obligations- 5% on net sales, to be remitted on half yearly basis. Intellectual property (IP) to be jointly owned by ICMR and Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL),” Pawar replied.

“ICMR agreed to hand-over the strain to BBIL due to the following reasons: - BBIL had a validated BSL-3 facility ready for use… Other companies with interest in SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development like Serum Institute of India were not interested in developing indigenous vaccine. Other companies like Cadila, Biological E did not have a validated BSL-3 facility available…,” she added.

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