The monthly production of indigenously developed coronavirus vaccine Covaxin will be increased to 6-7 crore doses in July-August from one crore doses in April, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. The production capacity of the vaccine being manufactured by Bharat Biotech is expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses a month by September, the ministry said.
"There have been some unfound media reports on unaccounted vaccine doses of Bharat Biotech. These reports are incorrect and are not supported by full information on the matter. The claims of Bharat Biotech having 6 crore doses is an error of comprehension among some quarters reporting the said matter," the ministry said in its statement. The production capacity of Covaxin will be doubled by May-June and then increased nearly six-seven fold by July-August 2021, i.e. increasing the production from 1 crore vaccine doses in April to 6-7 crore vaccine doses/month in July- August.
"It is expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021," the statement said. This capacity augmentation of Covaxin carried out under Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 Mission COVID Suraksha was announced by the Government of India and implemented by the Department of Biotechnology to accelerate the development and production of indigenous jabs.
Vaccine being a biological product of medical importance takes time for harvesting and quality testing, the ministry said, highlighting, "this cannot be done overnight to ensure a safe product. Thus increase in capacity of manufacturing too needs to be a guided process and an increase in gross production does not translate to immediate supply." According to data compiled in the morning of May 28, Bharat Biotech has supplied 2,76,66,860 vaccine doses to the Government of India. Out of these, 2,20,89,880 doses, including wastage, have been consumed by states and union territories.
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.