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Bharat Biotech facing difficulties in sourcing key chemical used in Covaxin: Report

Bharat Biotech is using ViroVax's Alhydroxiquim-II adjuvant in Covaxin, an inactivated vaccine.

April 15, 2021 / 03:28 PM IST


Bharat Biotech is facing challenges in procuring a key chemical used in manufacturing Covaxin, its COVID-19 vaccine, as it works on ramping up production.

The Hyderabad-based biotechnology company is experiencing shortage of the adjuvant used in the vaccine, Business Standard reported.

"One of the reasons for the sluggish pace of the Covaxin production scale-up is the firm facing issues in sourcing the adjuvant from the US," the source told the publication.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the story.

Bharat Biotech had not yet responded when contacted by Business Standard.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The report said Bharat Biotech is using ViroVax's Alhydroxiquim-II adjuvant in Covaxin, an inactivated vaccine, to boost the immune response.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines an  adjuvant as an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in people receiving the vaccine.

"In case of shortage of other raw material, like filters and bags, one can try to develop another vendor. However, for chemicals as critical as adjuvants, this is not possible. The vaccine, which is tested on volunteers and gets approved, is made with this adjuvant. Therefore, any change to this would lead to fresh clinical trials and fresh approvals," a source told the paper.

Bharat Biotech is attempting to scale its capacity of manufacturing Covaxin to 12 million doses a month by July, from the current 5 million doses, the report said.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 15, 2021 03:28 pm

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