Indian Immunologicals (IIL), a public sector enterprise, will start manufacturing and supplying Covid-19 vaccines by the end of August or early September from its facility in Hyderabad. This would augment production of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine in the country.
V K Paul, member, health, Niti Aayog, said there was now some visibility about contribution from IIL, with supply of two million doses expected from August-September onwards. The other two public sector companies, Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation in Mumbai and Bharat Immunologicals & Biologicals in Bulandshahar (Uttar Pradesh) were expected to take some more time to start production as they are building infrastructure, which could be ready by November or December.
The government on Tuesday said in the Rajya Sabha that based on information shared by the vaccine makers, the monthly production of Covaxin was projected to go up to 58 million doses, while Serum Institute of India was expected to reach 120 million doses a month. Responding to a question of capacity to manufacture Covaxin and Covishield, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in a written reply that Covishield’s production capacity was projected to be increased from 110 million doses to more than 120 million doses per month.
Production capacity of Covaxin was projected to go up from 25 million doses per month to around 58 million doses per month. The government had in June launched the Covid Suraksha mission to augment production of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin by utilising capacity at two central and one state public sector enterprise. Technology transfer was also made to the Gujarat Covid Vaccine Consortium led by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre along with Hester Biosciences and OmniBRx Biotechnologies.
Availability of Covaxin had been affected as Bharat Biotech has not been able to ramp up its production capacity. According to Paul, a significant quantity of the vaccines was to come from Bharat Biotech’s new facility at Bengaluru but there have been issues of output, quality assurance, standardisation and optimisation of production, which takes time and has caused a delay in production ramp-up.
These issues have now been sorted out and manufacturing had started. Bharat Biotech has also created additional facilities at Ankleshwar where it had a rabies vaccine plant. This plant would make an additional six million units of the Covaxin.
During July 2021, the government supplied 51 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and Paul said the government was hopeful that the road map for August to December would hold good. The government has said it will supply 135 crore vaccines, which are expected to be available between August and December.
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