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Bharat Biotech to ramp up production of ‘Covaxin’ to 70 crore doses per year

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: To meet the expecting demand of Covid-19 vaccines ahead of Government of India’s universal vaccination drive, starting from May 1, Bharat Biotech International Ltd on Tuesday said it will boost the production of its ‘Covaxin’ to about 70 crore doses on an annual basis, as per reports. The expansion in production comes after Centre last week provided them ₹65 crore grant.

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“Inactivated vaccines, while highly safe, are extremely complex and expensive to manufacture, resulting in lower yields when compared to live virus vaccines,” the Hyderabad-based company said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The company 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 preexisting expertise and know how to manufacture, test and release highly purified inactivated viral vaccines,” the company 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.”

The Hyderabad-based firm said it 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, it added.

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The company said it uses a proprietary adjuvant Algel-IMDG, that 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 indigenised and will be manufactured at commercial scale within the country, it added. “This is the first instance where a novel adjuvant has been commercialised in India,” Bharat Biotech said.

Meanwhile, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) on Friday announced financial support to four firms including Bharat Biotech International and Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, to ramp up production of the indigenously-developed Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin.

“The current production capacity of indigenously developed Covaxin vaccine will be doubled by May-June 2021 and then increased nearly 6-7 fold by July-August,” ministry of science and technology said last week. The current capacity has been pegged at 1 crore doses a month.

To note, apart from Bharat Biotech, two state-sector firms, Haffkine Biopharmaceutical and Indian Immunologicals Ltd, will also develop a combined monthly capacity of up to 3.5 crore doses in the coming months, under the plan.

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