COVAXIN supply to be increased as teens get COVID-19 vaccines
Pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech on Monday said it plans to increase the supply of its COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN to up to eight crore doses a month, starting February. Currently, it is supplying five-six crore doses every month. The company aims to touch 100 crore vaccine doses in 2022 as India begins the inoculation of teenagers. Notably, COVAXIN is the only vaccine cleared for teenagers.
Why does it matter?
India on Monday started the much-awaited COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 15 to 18 years. Till 3 pm, nearly 34 lakh teenagers in that age group had registered on the government's Co-WIN portal to get vaccinated. India would require around 15 crore doses for vaccinating this age group, which has a population of around 7.5 crore.
'Bharat Biotech prepared to support vaccination of kids'
"Bharat Biotech is prepared and ready with its strategies to contribute to India's vaccination drive," a company spokesperson told CNN-News18. The company has augmented its production and is prepared to support the inoculation of teenagers, the spokesperson added. The company's Hyderabad and Ankleshwar plants will manufacture vaccines, while its Bengaluru and Pune plants will manufacture the drug substance or the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
'Productions on track and on target'
The spokesperson further said the manufacturing has been increased in a stepwise manner. This has been done in "specially designed Bio-Safety Level-3 production facilities in Hyderabad in Telangana, Malur in Karnataka, Ankleshwar in Gujarat, and Pune in Maharashtra." "The productions are on track and on target, with an aim to touch an annualized ~1.0 billion doses of COVAXIN," the spokesperson added.
COVAXIN undergoes over 250 tests
While the production of COVAXIN has already gone up, the doses will only be ready for administration in February-March. It takes two to three months for manufactured jabs to reach supply lines. This is because the vaccine undergoes over 250 tests followed by tests in the government labs before supply. It also takes time to supply doses to vaccination centers.
No immediate rush expected at vaccination centers
India's total eligible population in the 15-18 year demographic stands at 7.5 crore, thus requiring 15 crore doses for complete vaccination. However, a source told CNN-News18 there would be no immediate rush at vaccination centers. "It has taken the adult vaccination program a full year to double vaccinate 50% of the eligible population. The vaccination program for children will also proceed on similar lines."