Government-owned BIBCOL to produce 2 crore COVAXIN doses every month
To accelerate the production of COVAXIN—the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech—amid severe vaccine shortage in India, the Centre on Wednesday reportedly gave its nod for production of COVAXIN at government-owned Bharat Immunologicals & Biologicals Corporation Limited (BIBCOL) in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr. BIBCOL would manufacture two crore doses of the vaccine every month; the production is expected to start soon. Here's more.
MoU signed between Bharat Biotech and BIBCOL for production
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was reportedly signed between Bharat Biotech and BIBCOL for the manufacturing of COVAXIN at the latter's Bulandshahr plant. The Union Health Ministry would also allocate Rs. 30 crore-worth financial aid for the production. BIBCOL would use its existing spare capacity to manufacture COVAXIN. It earlier said it has the capabilities for producing the vaccine according to the government's guidelines.
BIBCOL is a PSU set up back in 1989
BIBCOL is a public sector undertaking (PSU) of the Government of India and comes under the administrative control of the Science and Technology Ministry's Department of Biotechnology. It was set up in 1989 by the government for supplying polio vaccines for the country. Today, BIBCOL produces oral polio vaccines (OPVs), other immunizers, diarrhea management kits, dispersible zinc tablets, and iron-folic acid (IFA) tablets.
Three government-owned institutes roped in to boost vaccine production
Under Mission COVID Suraksha, the Centre reportedly roped in three government-owned biopharmaceutical organizations—BIBCOL, Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation (Mumbai), and Indian Immunologicals Limited (Hyderabad)—to boost COVAXIN production in India. Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation was granted permission in April to produce COVAXIN on a transfer of technology basis.
Production of COVAXIN in India to increase significantly
The move is expected to increase the manufacturing of the indigenous COVAXIN in India significantly. The Centre earlier said COVAXIN's production capacity will be doubled by June and is likely to get to nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021. To note, Bharat Biotech manufactures around one crore doses of the vaccine every month, says an April 25 report by Hindustan Times.
COVAXIN, Covishield currently being used under vaccination drive
COVAXIN is one of the two vaccines currently being administered under India's vaccination drive. It's been developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The other vaccine in use is Covishield—developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India. Russia's Sputnik V vaccine was also approved by India and is expected to be available by May-end.