Haffkine Biopharma to produce 22.8 cr Covaxin doses a year

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Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation, a Maharashtra government undertaking, will manufacture 22.8 crore doses of Covaxin per annum under a technology transfer arrangement with Bharat Biotech. The company has received funding of `159.80 crore for producing Covaxin.

Haffkine BioPharma MD Dr Sandeep Rathod said the company has been provided with a grant of `65 crore by the Centre and `94 crore from the Maharashtra government. “We have been given a timeline of eight months and the work is being executed on a war footing,” Rathod said. The company had earlier estimated around a year to make the vaccine.

Vaccine production will be done at the firm’s Parel complex in Mumbai. The process would involve two stages – drug substance and final drug product. For the production of drug substance, Haffkine would need to build a Bio Safety Level 3 (BSL 3) facility. BSL 3 is a safety standard applicable to facilities where work involves microbes that can cause serious disease via the inhalation route. It already has a fill-finish facility.

Making Covaxin at Haffkine is part of the government’s plans to accelerate domestic vaccine production by using the capacities of the public sector units. Apart from Haffkine, these vaccines will also be made at Indian Immunologicals, Hyderabad and Bharat Immunologicals & Biologicals, Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh.

‘Enhancing vaccine production capacity using public sectors assets will go a long way in building production capacity of vaccines in our country to support the massive vaccination drive,” said Renu Swarup, secretary, department of biotechnology and chairperson, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council.

The department of science and technology had approved Haffkine in April 2021 to produce Covaxin. Haffkine Biopharmaceuticals had asked for around 12 months to complete this task. The central government wanted them to expedite and complete the task urgently within six months. Now the timeline has been set at eight months.

The pharma company is an offshoot of the 122-year-old Haffkine Institute, one of the oldest biomedical research institutes in the country and focuses on research and manufacturing of polio vaccines. Haffkine has installed capacity to make 22.8 crore vials a year. A committee formed by the Maharashtra state government under the chairmanship of scientist, Raghunath Mashelkar, had recommended allocations of around `1,100 crore to implement projects over five years for the revival of Haffkine.

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