New Delhi: While the country is witnessing a sharp rise in fresh Covid-19 cases and the government is under pressure due to the shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Centre is looking for ways to scale up vaccine production manifold.
As per top government sources, to meet out its vaccine demand by end of the third quarter of this year, India will be getting vaccines from five additional manufacturers. Notably, India is currently manufacturing ‘Covishield’ and ‘Covaxin’.
Talking about government’s new strategy to manufacture additional vaccine doses, a source said “India currently has 2 COVID-19 vaccines being manufactured locally: Covishield and Covaxin, and we can expect five more vaccines by Q3 2021. These vaccines are Sputnik V vaccine (in collaboration with Dr. Reddy’s), Johnson & Johnson vaccine (in collaboration with Biological E), Novavax vaccine (in collaboration with Serum India), Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, and Bharat Biotech’s Intranasal Vaccine. Safety and efficacy are the Union government’s primary concerns while granting emergency use authorisation (EUA) to any COVID-19 vaccine in the country.”
Out of almost 20 COVID-19 vaccines in various clinical and pre-clinical stages, Russia’s ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine will get the nod first. It is expected that Sputnik is likely to get the EUA within the next ten days.
Meanwhile, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has tied up with a host of Indian pharmaceutical players such as Hyderabad based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Hetero Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma and Vichrow Biotech for the production of vaccine doses. With a production capacity of 850 million doses in the country, ‘Sputnik V’ will provide a major shot in the arm in the battle against deadly corona virus.
Upon being asked when will the vaccines be available for use, a top-level source said, “Sputnik is expected to be available latest by June, if all goes well Johnson and Johnson ( Bio E) will be available by August, Cadilla Zydus will also be available by August, Novavex (Serum) by September and Nasal Vaccine (Bharat) by October.”
The government is making all efforts to accelerate the progress without cutting any corners in research, development, and clinical trial stages, the source further added.
Furthermore, the law makers are also taking all necessary steps to augment vaccine production and availability in India. A decision has been taken at the highest level to ensure all steps are taken to help domestic manufacturers to scale up vaccine production manifold.
“The Government of India is determined to ensure India remains the pharmacy of the world and Indians have equitable access to the highest quality vaccines in the world. We encourage all COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to come to India, as the Central Government is ready to provide manufacturing assistance, financial support, and partnership in running and designing clinical trials,” sources added.
India is currently under the scare of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic with the number of new cases increasing daily. The worrying surge has forced many states to consider night curfew and other virus-fighting measures to control the pandemic.
India has reported 1,52,879 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the biggest single-day rise in cases since the pandemic began. The country also reported 839 more deaths in this period, the highest daily death toll reported this year. The total number of cases reached 1,33,58,805, while the death toll was pushed to 1,69,275.
To note, ‘Sputnik V’ is being developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology to fight against Covid-19 based on the human adenoviral vector platform.