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COVID-19 update | Health Ministry allocates Remdesivir supply to 19 states, UTs; production to be ramped up

The production capacity of domestic Remdesivir manufacturers has been ramped up keeping in mind the sudden surge in demand in the country.

April 21, 2021 / 11:11 PM IST
Remdesivir vial (Representative image)

Remdesivir vial (Representative image)

In the wake of a surge in COVID-19 cases and rise in demand for Remdesivir, the central government on April 21 made an interim allocation of the life-saving medication for 19 states and union territories for the period up to April 30, 2021.

The Union Health Ministry said the production capacity of domestic Remdesivir manufacturers has been ramped up keeping in mind the sudden surge in demand for Remdesivir injection, which is required for COVID-19 treatment.

"All support is being extended to manufacturers by the government in this endeavour. The production capacity is being ramped up from the current level of 38 lakh vials per month to 74 lakh vials per month, and 20 additional manufacturing sites have been approved," the health ministry statement said.

Take strict action against those indulged in black marketing, hoarding of Remdesivir: Centre to states

Among other things, the government said that it had prohibited the export of Remdesivir on April 11 in order to shore up domestic supplies.

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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 has also advised the manufacturers to consider supply orders already made to them and give inputs for mapping manufacturers to states for the allocated volumes. They have been directed to manufacture and dispatch the supplies as per the agreed state allocation.

The ministry also asked states to offer the allocated Remdesivir to other states in case that particular state is unable to fully utilise it.

Apart from this, the government informed that all control rooms set up by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) shall be responsible for monitoring the operations as per the allocations. For smooth communication between nodal officers of states and unhindered movement of Remdesivir within the country, a Whatsapp group has also been created.

The Centre allowed states to immediately appoint nodal officers for Remdesivir who will be responsible for unrestricted and timely movement of Remdesivir.
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