Hester Biosciences, the maker of poultry and animal vaccines, which has signed up with Bharat Biotech to manufacture the drug substance of Covaxin, said the company is confident about commencing supplies from the fourth quarter of FY22.
The company said the construction of BSL-3 facility suitable for manufacturing the drug substance of Covaxin is underway. The company intends to produce 5 million to 15 million doses of Covaxin drug substance.
"We are on track and at this point of time, there is no delay in timelines," said Rajiv Gandhi, CEO & Managing Director of Hester Biosciences at the company's recent call with analysts.
Hester is investing Rs 40 crore towards setting up a plant for producing Covaxin drug substance.
Gandhi earlier said he had entered into an agreement with Bharat Biotech with the objective of helping the country to ramp up COVID vaccine production.
"We are renovating part of the manufacturing site to make the vaccine, so there is no drop in our normal production of poultry and animal vaccines, which is our core business," Gandhi added.
On May 27, an MoU was signed between Bharat Biotech and Gujarat Covid Vaccine Consortium (GCVC) of which Hester is a part.
Hester shall provide the complete infrastructure at its Gujarat plant for manufacturing the drug substance for Covaxin. Bharat Biotech will do the formulation and fill-finish the vaccine at its plants.
The deal was signed at a time when Bharat Biotech was scrambling to ramp up production of Covaxin, which requires BSL-3 facility as it deals with the handling of live SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Along with Hester, Bharat Biotech has contracted three PSUs -- Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL), Hyderabad, and Bharat Immunologicals & Biologicals Ltd, Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh -- to manufacture Covaxin drug substance. IIL commenced commercial production of Covaxin in August. Bharat Biotech is planning to have 1 billion doses per annum capacity by December.
The Ahmedabad-based company is the second-largest manufacturer of poultry vaccines in India with a market share of 35 percent.
Hester has a presence in over 30 countries with key markets being India, Nepal and Tanzania. It operates through four broad verticals: poultry vaccines, poultry health products, animal vaccines and animal health products
The company clocked Rs 214.3 crore sales with the poultry segment contributing 73 percent, animal healthcare - 19 percent and others 8 percent. About 81 percent of revenues comes from domestic and the rest from exports.