Bharat Biotech, on August 29, announced the commercial launch of the first batch of Covaxin from its Chiron Behring Vaccines facility in Ankleshwar, Gujarat.
Union Health Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya inaugurated the Covaxin batches.
Products manufactured from Ankleshwar facilities will be available for supplies starting September.
With specialised biosafety containment facilities in Hyderabad, Malur, Ankleshwar, and Pune, Bharat Biotech said it was steadily moving towards its aim of one billion doses of annualised capacity.
A new filing facility was constructed during 2020 at Ankleshwar. It is now being utilized for the production of Covaxin. The Covaxin production began in early June, before which the team had executed engineering batches to study the equipment functionality at the facility.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Chiron Behring Vaccines is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bharat Biotech.
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 did not disclose the capacity of doses available from Ankleshwar, but earlier it said that the Gujarat unit can produce up to 200 million doses per annum.
The company said it is also exploring manufacturing partnerships with its partners in other countries, who have prior expertise with commercial scale manufacturing of inactivated viral vaccines under biosafety containment for further augmentation.
“India is focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the country, and the key to achieving this lies in the swift and efficient administration of vaccines," said Mandaviya.
"We want to ensure equitable access of the vaccine to every Indian citizen, and the expansion of COVAXIN® production facilities by Bharat Biotech will take us closer to this goal,” he added.Krishna Ella, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, 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 and can secure their health and safety. Our goal to develop a vaccine with global safety and efficacy standards has now been achieved, we are now marching towards the goal of annualized capacity of one billion doses.”