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Bharat Biotech cancels MoUs with two Brazil firms on Covaxin supply, denies wrongdoing

However, Bharat Biotech will continue to work with Brazilian healthcare regulator Anvisa to obtain all required approvals for the use of Covaxin in the country.

July 23, 2021 / 10:31 PM IST
Vial of Covaxin (File image)

Vial of Covaxin (File image)

Bharat Biotech on July 23 said it had terminated its memorandum of understanding (MOU) dated November 24, 2020, with Brazil-based Precisa Medicamentos (Precisa) and Envixia Pharmaceuticals.

The vaccine manufacturer said it had entered into MOU with Precisa and Envixia to introduce Covaxin in Brazil.

However, Bharat Biotech said it will continue to work diligently with ANVISA, the Brazilian drug regulatory body, to complete the regulatory approval process for Covaxin.

The company said as part of its global supply outreach, it has offered to supply Covaxin to Brazil.

"The global pricing (save for India) of Covaxin has been set between $15 and $20. Accordingly, Covaxin has been offered to the Government of Brazil at the rate of $15 per dose," the company 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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No wrongdoing

Bharat Biotech has entered into a contract to supply 2 crore doses of Covaxin to Brazilian companies for $324 million. However, the vaccine contract has been mired in controversies, with allegations of irregularities against the government of Jair Bolsonaro.

Bharat Biotech stated that the company has not received any advance payments. It has also not supplied any vaccines to the Ministry of Health in Brazil.

The company said that all its actions, including its global dealings, are done in accordance with local laws and it follows the highest standards of ethics, integrity and compliance at all times.

Bharat Biotech said Madison Biotech, the Singapore-based company that was under the scanner for raising an alleged invoice of $45 million for advance payment to supply Covaxin to Brazil, is an affiliate company.

"Madison Biotech was established in 2020 for the purpose of external R&D and distribution of vaccines. More than 3,000 personnel are employed in 6 cities across all these organisations. We wish to dispel any notion or implication of any wrongdoing whatsoever, as all these are affiliate companies founded or acquired and operated by Dr. Krishna Ella," the company said.

It further said that Madison Biotech, an ACRA-registered entity in Singapore, is a wholly owned subsidiary, and hence all financial reports will be filed with appropriate authorities in India.
Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.

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