Centre ropes in PSUs to ramp up Covid vaccine production

Centre ropes in PSUs to ramp up Covid vaccine production

New Delhi: The production of indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin will be ramped up significantly and increased to 10 crore doses per month by September, the Department of Biotechnology said on Friday.

Covaxin's production will be doubled by May-June and the department has roped in three public sector companies to increase the capacity of vaccine production, it said.

Few weeks ago, inter-ministerial teams had visited the sites of two main vaccine manufacturers in India to get their inputs on how production can be ramped up.

During this period, there have been extensive reviews and feasibility studies on the plans being discussed with vaccine manufacturers, it said.

As part of the augmentation plan, capacities of Bharat Biotech Limited as well as other public sector manufactures are being upgraded with required infrastructure and technology, the DBT said.

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council for Medical Research have developed Covaxin, one of the two vaccines being used in the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Financial support of around Rs 65 crore is being provided as grant by the Centre to Bharat Biotech's new Bangalore facility which is being repurposed to increase the capacity of vaccine production, the DBT said.

The current production capacity of indigenously developed Covaxin will be doubled by May-June 2021 and then increased nearly 6-7 fold by July-August 2021 i.e. increasing the production from 1 crore vaccine doses in April, 2021 to 6-7 crore vaccine dose/month in July August. It is expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021, the DBT said.

The Centre will provide financial assistance of Rs 65 crore to Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai a public sector undertaking (PSU) under the Maharashtra government, the DBT said.

Financial support as grant from GoI (government of India) to the tune of approximately Rs 65 crore will be provided for this facility to be made ready for manufacturing. The Haffkine Biopharmaceuticals Ltd had asked for around 12 months to complete this task, it said.

Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Sandeep Rathod, Managing Director, Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, said its target is to produce around 22.8 crore vaccine vials but it will take one year for us to start production.

However, the central government has asked them to expedite and complete the task urgently within six months. The facility will have a capacity of 20 million dozes per month, once functional, the DBT further said.

Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), Hyderabad, a facility under National Dairy Development Board, and Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Limited, Bulandshahr, a PSU department of biotechnology will also be supported to prepare there a facility to provide 10-15 million doses per month by August-September, the DBT said.

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