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COVID-19: Madras HC calls for revival of government-owned vaccine institutes

Covaxin is developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology

May 09, 2021 / 03:44 PM IST
Representational image

Representational image

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has questioned the Centre as to why COVID-19 vaccines are only being manufactured at private institutes.

Noting that India is one of the pioneers in the production of the vaccine, the court asked the Central Government what steps are being taken to revive the existing vaccine Institutes owned by them.

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The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking directions to manufacture vaccines at HLL Biotech Ltd, owned by the Centre, reported LiveLaw.

The bench of Justices MS Ramesh and B Pugalendhi said that the  government is presently procuring COVID-19 vaccines -- Covaxin from Bharat Biotech and Covishield from Serum Institute of India -- meaning that "the vaccines manufacturing institutes owned by the Centre are not at all utilized."

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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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The court has sought a reply from the centre and posted the matter for May 19.

Covaxin is developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. Besides Covaxin, India has also approved the emergency use authorisation for two other vaccines Covishield and Sputnik V for its inoculation program against COVID-19.

The Centre has liberalised the vaccination drive and allowed everyone above 18 to get vaccinated. It has also allowed states, private hospitals and industrial establishments to procure the doses directly from manufacturers.

However, many states are facing a shortage of jabs and have postponed inoculation of those in the 18-44 age group.

Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak
Moneycontrol News
first published: May 9, 2021 03:44 pm

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