Qualities Issues Delay Covaxin Supply: Govt Vaccine Panel Chief

·3 min read

As experts predict the third wave of COVID-19, which is expected to peak sometime in October, vaccinating the adult population by year-end became one of the biggest priorities for the government. However, vaccine production has not yet increased despite assurances from the government.

Moreover, the supply of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin has slowed down because the first few batches at the company's newest facility in Bengaluru were not of the right quality, NK Arora, the chairperson of the Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation said, NDTV reported.

However, Arora clarified that the batches that did not meet the quality standards were not released to the public.

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In an interview to NDTV, Arora said, "Vaccine manufacturing is almost like rocket science. We were expecting a much sharper rise in the production of Covaxin. They have started a new facility in Bengaluru. In addition, three public sector undertakings are also working together to augment the total output. Ultimately, we are expecting 10-12 crore doses from Bharat Biotech."

""The Bangalore plant was one of the largest vaccine manufacturing plants globally. But the initial couple of batches did not pass quality issues. But the third and fourth batches have now come up which have moved forward. We hope in the next four or six weeks the vaccine production will really ramp up from Bharat Biotech.”" - Dr NK Arora, as quoted by NDTV.

Explaining that the Bangalore plant had only recently started producing better batches, Arora was quoted as saying, "They are on the second batch of clear quality. Now there will be rapid ramping up. In the next few weeks there will be an exponential increase in production."

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The Centre had asserted that India will be able to vaccinate all of its adult population by the end of December. However, only 10.5 crore people have received both their doses, while 37 crore people have received their first dose.

To achieve its target, India needs 30 crore doses a month in order to vaccinate close to a crore a day.

This also comes amid confusion about the real production numbers of Covaxin in India. On 24 July, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar had provided three different sets of numbers in the Rajya Sabha.

In any case, Bharat Biotech will have to massively scale up its production for India to vaccinate its adult population.

Further, Arora said, "I am given to understand that in the next few weeks it is possible that they will increase production several-fold."

Additionally, Indian Immunological, Arora added, would start production in the next two-three months. "Haffkine and BIBCOL (Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Limited) – will take much longer. The technology transfer is on track," Arora was quoted as saying.

(With inputs from NDTV)

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