As the surge in COVID-19 cases continues in the country, the Centre on Friday said it is taking steps to boost production of indigenous COVID-19 vaccines, and the production capacity of Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin will increase to 10 crore doses per month by September.
The government is taking steps under Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 Mission COVID Suraksha to accelerate the development and production of indigenous vaccines. The Centre's Department of Biotechnology is providing financial support as grant to vaccine manufacturing facilities to enhance their production capacities, a release said.
"The current production capacity of indigenously developed Covaxin vaccine will be doubled by May-June 2021 and then increased nearly 6-7 fold by July-August 2021 i.e increasing the production from 1 crore vaccine doses in April 2021 to 6-7 crore vaccine dose/month in July- August. It is expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses per month by Sep 2021," it said.
The facilities of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Ltd and other public sector manufacturers are being upgraded with the required infrastructure and technology to increase vaccine production. The government will provide a grant of Rs 65 crore for Bharat Biotech's new facility in Bengaluru which is being repurposed to increase vaccine production.
The Center has already allowed Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, a Mumbai-based public sector enterprise of the Maharashtra government, to produce Covaxin. The Centre will also provide a grant of Rs 65 crore to Haffkine Biopharmaceutical to make its facility ready for manufacturing Covaxin.
"Haffkine Biopharmaceuticals Ltd had asked for around 12 months to complete this task. However, the Central government has asked them to expedite and complete the task urgently within 6 months. The facility will have a capacity of 20 million doses per month, once functional," the government said.
Besides, Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL) and Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Ltd (BIBCOL) will also be supported by the Centre to prepare their facilities to provide 10-15 million vaccine doses per month by August-September 2021.
Based in Hyderabad, IIL, established by the National Dairy Development Board, is a market leader in veterinary and human biologicals in India. BIBCOL, a central public sector undertaking under the Department of Biotechnology, is a leading biotechnology company based in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr.
As the COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, the focus has shifted towards vaccination. India has so far cumulatively administered over 11.72 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines. A total of 2,17,353 new cases were reported in the country in the preceding 24 hours as on Friday morning.