A crucial part of India's fight against second Covid-19 wave is vaccination. The country has an uphill task to inoculate about 850 million (85 crore) people over the age of 18. It means India will require 1.7 billion vaccines to inoculate the entire lot under the current phase 3. The government has said India will produce a total of 126 crore vaccines between August-December. Over 35.6 crore doses have been either procured or are in the process of procurement. However, the current vaccine makers Serum Institute - the biggest in the world - and Bharat Biotech alone won't be able to meet the demand.
Fortunately, there are other players too in vaccine production, and they should be able to cater to the demand in the months ahead. Let's take a look:
Hyderabad-based vaccine maker Biological E (BE) has got the regulatory nod to conduct the final Phase III stage of clinical trials of its potential COVID-19 vaccine. It has completed the Phase I and II clinical trials of its COVID-19 sub-unit vaccine candidate in India. The homegrown pharma major aims to produce 30 crore doses by December. The company's vaccine candidate includes an antigen developed by Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and in-licensed from BCM Ventures, Baylor College of Medicine's integrated commercialisation team, along with Dynavax Technologies Corporation's advanced adjuvant CpG 1018. The vaccine's Phase III clinical study will be conducted in 15 sites across India.
The US-based Novavax plans to produce its two-shot vaccine at eight manufacturing locations, including the Serum Institute of India. With Novavax, SII will produce 20 crore Covid-19 vaccines for India by the year-end. The two companies have primarily partnered to provide 1.1 billion cumulative doses of NVX-CoV2373, Novavax's recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, for the COVAX Facility. COVAX is a worldwide initiative aimed at providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine is still undergoing trials in India and final approval for the vaccine is awaited.
Dr. Redddy's and others (Sputnik V)
The first batch of the vaccine developed by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute and bankrolled by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) arrived in India on May 1 and the second batch arrived on May 16. The vaccine maker will produce 15.6 crore vaccines for India by December end. As per VK Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog, the Russian anti-Covid vaccine Sputnik V is likely to be available this week. Dr Reddy's lab, which is RDIF's partner in India, inoculated the first person with Sputnik V vaccine on Friday, making it the third vaccine after Serum Institute's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin to make an official foray in India. Apart from Dr Reddy's, RDIF has also partnered with Hetero Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma and Vichrow Biotech for the production of Sputnik V.
Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd
Maharashtra-based Gennova India is producing India's first indigenous mRNA or messenger RNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, similar to the ones produced by the US-based Moderna and Pfizer Inc. However, the company is still conducting phase 1-2 trials in the country. Gennova aims to make six crore doses available in India. Gennova Biopharma's vaccine candidate can be stored at 2-8 degree Celsius temperature, unlike Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which require ultra-low temperatures.
Zydus Cadila has also received the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) nod to begin phase-3 clinical trials of coronavirus vaccine -- ZyCoV-D -- in around 30,000 volunteers. The vaccine has been found safe, immunogenic and well-tolerated in phase-1 and phase-2 clinical trials. The Ahmedabad-based pharma company aims to produce 5 crore vaccines by the year-end.
SII and Bharat Biotech plans
Pune-based Serum Institute aims to produce 75 crore doses between August-December and 11 crore doses between May-July. Hyderabad-based Covaxin hopes to make 55 crore doses available during that period and 5 crore doses by May-July. Bharat Biotech is also conducting trials of its nasal vaccine in India, and it'll produce 10 crore of the nasal doses by December. The company is conducting phase 1-2 clinical trials of the nasal vaccine. The vaccine maker has also received regulatory approval to conduct trials of its vaccine for the 2-18 age group.