The company is set to start bulk production at its Bengaluru facility, people in the know told ET. Bharat Biotech received approval from India’s drug regulatory authority to start bulk production at the plant recently.
“The company has got the test licence to start production of Covaxin in Bengaluru. The fill-finish lines of its existing Hyderabad facility will be used before the vaccine is sent to the Central Drug Laboratory (CDL) for final approval,” said a government official.
The company is adding new lines to step up annual capacity by 500 million doses.
Talks On for Tieups with Other Cos
There are also discussions regarding partnerships with other companies to further boost production of the Covid-19 vaccine, the official added.
“The demand for Covaxin has gone up manifold and hence there is a need to ramp up production. The technology can be transferred to those companies which are BSL (bio safety level) III or are interested in upgrading their facility,” the official said.
The company has also asked for Rs 150 crore in funding—Rs 75 crore each for its facilities at Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
Serum Institute of India (SII) is also expected to boost production. It’s hoping to increase capacity for the Covishield vaccine to 110 million doses per month from June onwards, as part of an overall strategy to ramp up production. SII now has a monthly capacity of 60-70 million doses per month.
As India grapples with a deadly second wave of Covid-19 infections—with an average of more than 90,000 cases daily from April 1—its inoculation drive appears to be struggling, with many states reporting a shortage of vaccines.
“We are also expecting Russia’s Sputnik V to get approval soon, which will inject an instant relief,” said an official.
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has a tie-up with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which backed the development of Sputnik V, and will import initial doses of the vaccine once it gets approval from the drug regulator. It will subsequently be manufactured in India.
RDIF and Dr Reddy’s said in September that they would cooperate on clinical trials and the supply of 100 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine to India.
While Dr Reddy’s will market the vaccine in India, RDIF has tied up with other Indian companies to produce 850 million doses of Sputnik V in the country every year. The first partnership was with Hetero Biopharma in November and collaborations with Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma and Vichrow Biotech were announced last month.