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Home / India / Rs 4,500 cr advanced to vaccine makers Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech

Covaxin production ramped up

Rs 4,500 cr advanced to vaccine makers Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech

Covaxin production ramped up to 700 million doses per annum
Capacity expansion in vaccines manufacturing is a long and tedious process, requiring investments and several years, the release said.

Our Bureau, Agencies   |   Hyderabad, New Delhi   |   Published 20.04.21, 05:17 PM

Looking to ramp up supplies ahead of the opening of Covid-19 vaccination to all citizens over 18 years of age, the government has approved a payment of about Rs 4,500 crore as advance to vaccine makers like Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech against future supplies, sources said.

SII will supply 200 million doses and Bharat Biotech is to supply another 90 million doses to the government by July at a pre-agreed rate of Rs 150 per dose.

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Sources said the finance ministry has relaxed rules to allow advance payment without bank guarantee to help the vaccine makers ramp up production.

SII will get Rs 3,000 crore in advance and Bharat Biotech about Rs 1,500 crore.

Commenting on the decision during a media briefing, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said the finance minister has approved to provide credit line to vaccine manufacturers and this approval does not require vetting by the Cabinet.

"I think the finance minister has approved and this is part of her powers to approve these funds because it is in the form of credit line, and will be backed with the adequate supplies of vaccines to support the government procurement and vaccination programme of the government of India," he said.

Serum Institute hails decision

Earlier this month, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had said that the company would require around Rs 3,000 crore to ramp up production capacity for making vaccines for COVID-19.

The decision to provide credit line was hailed by SII.

"On behalf of the vaccine industry in India, I would like to thank and applaud Shri @narendramodi Ji, @nsitharaman Ji, for your decisive policy changes and swift financial aid which will help vaccine production and distribution in India," Poonawalla said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Bharat Biotech scales up production

Bharat Biotech on Tuesday said it has scaled up its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin manufacturing capacity to 700 million doses per annum.

According to a press release issued by the city-based vaccine maker, manufacturing scale up has been carried out in a stepwise manner across multiple facilities at Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Sources said the company had 200 million doses capacity when it started producing Covaxin in the beginning.

Capacity expansion in vaccines manufacturing is a long and tedious process, requiring investments and several years, the release said.

"Bharat Biotech is able to expand Covaxin manufacturing capacity in a short timeline, mainly due to the availability of new specially designed BSL-3 facilities, first of its kind for manufacturing in India that have been repurposed and pre-existing expertise and know how to manufacture, test and release highly purified inactivated viral vaccines," the firm said.

Manufacturing partnerships are being explored with our partners in other countries, who have prior expertise with commercial scale manufacture of inactivated viral vaccines under biosafety containment, Bharat Biotech said.

Tie-up with IIL

To further increase capacities, Bharat Biotech has partnered with Indian Immunologicals (IIL) to manufacture the drug substance for Covaxin.

The technology transfer process is well underway and IIL has the capabilities and expertise to manufacture inactivated viral vaccines at commercial scale and under biosafety containment.

Bharat Biotech uses a proprietary adjuvant Algel- IMDG, which has now proven to be a safe and effective adjuvant, especially to stimulate memory T cell responses.

The synthesis and manufacture of the IMDG component has been successfully indigenized and will be manufactured at commercial scale within the country. This is the first instance where a novel adjuvant has been commercialised in India.

Emergency use nod

Covaxin has received Emergency Use Authorisations  (EUA) in several countries across the globe with another 60 in process.

EUAs have now been obtained from Mexico, the Philippines, Iran, Paraguay, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Guyana, Venezuela, Botswana, Zimbabwe, among several other countries. EUAs are in process in the USA and several European countries.

Pricing for international markets and supplies to governments under EUAs have been established between USD15 - 20/ dose, the vaccine maker said.

Vaccination drive opened up

The government on Monday allowed citizens over the age of 18 years to receive Covid-19 vaccination from May 1 as it seeks to control the rapid spread of the virus.

Under the third phase of its vaccination strategy, manufacturers will be required to supply 50 per cent of their monthly doses to the government and the rest to state governments or the open market.

Vaccination will continue as before in the government of India vaccination centres free of cost for the eligible population -- healthcare and frontline workers and all people above 45 years of age.

Second-worst affected nation

Latest data showed that over 2.59 lakh coronavirus infections pushed overall cases in India to more than 1.53 crore, making the country the second-worst affected nation after the US, which has reported more than 3.1 crore infections. India's deaths from COVID-19 rose by a record 1,761 to over 1.8 lakh.

With regard to impact of surging COVID-19 cases on the economy, Goyal said, India Inc is completely satisfied with the steps taken by the government to deal with the situation.

The government decision on vaccination for all above 18 years taken on Monday will give a boost in maintaining economic activity, he said.

The Commerce Minister said he had discussions with three industry chambers and they have informed that their members would like to pay and implement the vaccination for their employees.

Chambers have their intention to import vaccine if at all available, he added.



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