Central support for Bharat Biotech, 3 PSEs to augment Covaxin supplies

The Centre has announced financial support to Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech as well as roped in Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation, Indian Immunologicals and Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals, three firms in the public-sector fold, towards augmenting the production of the indigenously-developed COVID-19 vaccine.

The current production capacity of Covaxin will be doubled by May-June and increased almost 6-7 fold by July-August 2021. In other words, the existing capacity of one crore doses a month will go up to 6-7 crore doses a month in July – August. It is expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses a month by September, a release from Union Ministry of Science and Technology said.

As a part the augmentation plan, the production capacity of Bharat Biotech as well as the public sector vaccine makers are being upgraded with the required infrastructure and technology.

Bharat Biotech, which is repurposing its new facility in Bengaluru to increase capacity of Covaxin, is being provided ₹65 crore in grant.

Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical, which is a Maharashtra government undertaking, will also get about ₹65 crore in grant towards making its facility ready to make the vaccine. While the company had sought about 12 months to complete the task, of being ready to make the vaccine, the Centre asked it to expedite and complete the process within six months. Once functional, The Haffkine facility would have a capacity of 20 million doses a month, the release said.

The Centre will also support the Hyderabad-based Indian Immunologicals, which is a part of the National Dairy Development Board, as well as Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals (BIB COL), Bulandshahr, a CPSE under the Department of Biotechnology, to prepare their facilities to provide 10-15 million doses a month by August-September.

The release said as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 Mission COVID Suraksha, the Department of Biotechnology is providing financial support as grant to vaccine manufacturing facilities for enhanced production capacities. Without mentioning names of the firm, it said a few weeks ago inter-Ministerial teams had visited the sites of the two main vaccine manufacturers in India. The visit was to seek their inputs on how production can be ramped up .

Covaxin and Covishield, made by Serum Institute of India, are the two vaccines being used as part of the immunisation programme, against COVID-19, that India rolled out in mid-January. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had recently also approved the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, the marketing partner for Sputnik V, recently said the imported vaccine will be available this quarter.

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