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COVID-19 Vaccine | Covaxin production will be increased to 6-7 crore monthly doses by July-August: Centre

The current production capacity of Covaxin vaccine will be doubled by May-June 2021 and increased to around 10 crore doses per month by September, the government claimed.

April 16, 2021 / 06:33 PM IST
Vaccination drive began in India on January 16. (Representative image)

Vaccination drive began in India on January 16. (Representative image)

The production of Covaxin - one of the two COVID-19 vaccines currently administered to priority groups in India - would be significantly scaled up in the months to come, the central government said on April 16. The monthly production would be doubled by June and increased to 6-7 crore doses by July-August.

The Centre, as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 Mission COVID Suraksha, is assisting the indigenous vaccine makers in augmenting their manufacturing capacities.

"The current production capacity of Covaxin vaccine will be doubled by May-June 2021 and increased nearly 6-7 fold by July/August i.e increasing the production from 1 crore vaccine doses in April to 6-7 crore vaccine dose/month in July-August and 10 crore doses per month by September," said a statement issued by the Union Ministry of Science & Technology.

The Covaxin is developed and being manufactured by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited. The second vaccine currently used is Covishield - the Indian version of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine - being manufactured by the Pune-headquartered Serum Institute of India (SII).

Few weeks back, inter-ministerial teams had visited the sites of two main vaccine manufacturers in India to get their inputs on how production can be ramped up, the ministry said.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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In this period, there have been extensive reviews and feasibility studies on the plans being discussed with vaccine manufacturers, it added.

"As a part of this augmentation plan, capacities of Bharat Biotech Limited, Hyderabad as well as other public sector manufactures are being upgraded with required infrastructure and technology," the government claimed.

"Financial support is being provided as grant from GoI (Government of India) to the tune of approximately Rs 65 crore to Bharat Biotech’s new Bangalore facility which is being repurposed to increase the capacity of vaccine production," it stated.

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Three public sector companies are also being supported by the government to increase the capacity of vaccine production.

Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd , Mumbai – a state PSE under the Maharashtra government - would be provided a financial support from the Centre "to the tune of approximately Rs 65 crore" to be made ready for manufacturing and its production facility, the government said.

"Haffkine Biopharmaceuticals had asked for around 12 months to complete this task. However, the central government has asked them to expedite and complete the task urgently within 6 months. The facility will have a capacity of 20 million doses per month, once functional," the statement added.

Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), Hyderabad – a facility under National Dairy Development Board, along with the Bulandshahr-based Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Limited (BIBCOL) - a CPSE under Department of Biotechnology, GoI - would also be supported to "prepare there facility to provide 10-15 million doses per month by August-September 2021", it further said.

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