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Bharat Biotech to expand manufacturing capacity to meet Covaxin demand: Report

Currently, the company is producing 40 lakh doses of Covaxin per month at its Hyderabad plant.

March 25, 2021 / 04:12 PM IST
Demand for vaccine in expected to shoot up, as the government has eased the eligibility criteria from April 1 (Representative image: Reuters)

Demand for vaccine in expected to shoot up, as the government has eased the eligibility criteria from April 1 (Representative image: Reuters)


Pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech would expand its manufacturing capacity to meet the demand for Covaxin, CNBC TV18 reported on March 25.

Covaxin is one of the two COVID-19 vaccines approved so far by the Indian health regulator. The anti-coronavirus shot is currently being manufactured at the Hyderabad-based plant of Bharat Biotech.

The company would soon launch a new production facility in Malur Kolar district of Karnataka, while ramping up the existing manufacturing capacity in Hyderabad, the channel reported citing sources.

The production at the Malur Kolar plant would begin shortly after it is officially launched. The manufacturing capacity at the plant would be raised five-fold till July-end, the report added.

The capacity of the Hyderabad-based plant would also be doubled by May, it further said.

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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 government-appointed inter-ministerial panel on vaccine manufacturing augmentation has reviewed the facilities of Bharat Biotech, the report added.

Currently, the company is producing 40 lakh doses of Covaxin per month at its Hyderabad plant.

The domestic demand for vaccine is expected to further shoot up next month, as the government has allowed all citizens aged above 45 to take the jabs from April 1. Currently, the immunisation drive is restricted to only senior citizens aged above 60 and 45-plus with comorbidities.
first published: Mar 25, 2021 03:51 pm

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