Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandviya released the first commercial batch of Covaxin manufactured by Bharat Biotech from its Chiron Behring vaccines facility at Ankleshwar in South Gujarat on Sunday and said third phase trial of vaccine for children above two years of age will begin soon.
Addressing the gathering, the Union minister said, “Today first batch of Covaxin manufactured by Bharat Biotech at Ankleshwar has been released. The company has the capacity to manufacture one crore dose per month… The world’s largest vaccination drive is going on in India… where two days ago, one crore doses of vaccine was administered… To continue such a trend we are increasing the manufacturing and simultaneously the capacity of administering it.”
Remarking it as a “landmark moment in the journey of India’s fight against Covid-19”, the Union minister said, “Zydus Cadila vaccine has been authorised to be used on emergency bases and it will be administered to children above 12 years old. Bharat Biotech vaccine has been allowed research work for vaccine of children above two years of age which has completed second phase. And research work for third phase has also been permitted… We hope that research and manufacturing of such vaccines for minors would be done in India soon.”
The Union minister was accompanied by state cabinet minister Ishwar Patel, state BJP president CR Paatil, Bharat Biotech chairman & managing director Dr Krishna Ella and company’s joint managing director Suchitra Ella.
In response to a query on the sidelines of the event about Covaxin not being approved by some other countries, Mandaviya said, “Covaxin has submitted all data to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and I had a meeting with its chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan… We hope that it will get approval in September.”
Adding that Hester biological company of Ahmedabad is also preparing to manufacture Covaxin, the minister said, “I had visited the company premises and it is expected that they will start production in the next couple of months.”
Mandaviya added, “When our country was battling the pandemic, PM Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) alloted Rs 900 crore for production and research of vaccine. Other political parties criticised him then… Government of India’s biotechnology department and Bharat Biotech jointly worked on research and succeeded… India got its indigenous vaccine…”
Claiming that vaccination drive will be expedited in the coming days, he said, “Till date over 63 crore people have been vaccinated… Our country got 20 crore doses in August and from next month onwards the figure will be 23 crore. India will have the capacity to vaccinate one crore people per day from next month.”
“Pharma industries in India remained operational through the pandemic with government support and we have provided medicines to 123 countries… Representatives of over 50 countries thanked PM Modiji,” he said.
Regarding the preparedness in view of a possible third wave of Covid, Mandaviya said, “We have declared a package of Rs 23,000 crore, 50 per cent of which has been delivered to states… to increase the capacities… In each district, the administration would procure medicines worth Rs 1 crore.”
Indian multinational biotechnology company headquartered in Hyderabad, Bharat Biotech, has already deployed multiple production lines at its Hyderabad, Malur, Bengaluru, and Pune campuses, and the addition of Chiron Behring, Ankleshwar will further augment its Covaxin production capacity, the company said.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Krishna Ella said, “We want to ensure that Bharat Biotech can ably meet the demand for Covaxin such that individuals across the country, and the globe, have access to the vaccine… Our goal to develop a vaccine with global safety and efficacy standards has now been achieved… we are now marching towards the goal of the annualised capacity of 1.0 billion doses.”
Emphasising that the company’s efforts over the past one year have fructified, Suchitra Ella said, “We are now several steps closer to achieving our goal of providing Covaxin to all pockets of the country and overseas. The pandemic has impacted people across the globe, and it is only through collaborative efforts that we can hope to mitigate its spread and impact.”