Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya stated on Friday that facility augmentation of Bharat Biotech and three Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) is being supported to enhance the production of COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin. The minister stated that this facility augmentation is being done under the "Mission COVID Suraksha- the Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission". It is being implemented by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
"The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has informed that the facility augmentation of Bharat Biotech and 3 public sector enterprises (PSEs) - Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Indian Immunologicals Ltd; and Bharat Immunologicals Biologicals Corporation Ltd - is being supported for augmented production of Covaxin," noted Mandaviya, in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Mandaviya explained the technology transfer of Covaxin production to Gujarat COVID Vaccine Consortium - comprising Hester Biosciences, OmniBRx Biotechnologies Pvt Ltd and Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre - is being done by DBT with the aim of enhancing the production of Covaxin in the coming months.
"The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has provided 100 per cent advance to domestic vaccine manufacturers in respect of procurement orders placed with them. These funds can be used by such manufacturers for their capacity augmentation," the minister said.
He said the Centre has also provided financial assistance to one of the vaccine manufacturers -- Biological E -- for ''at-risk manufacturing'' of the coronavirus jab.
The minister said the Central Drug Standards and Control Organisation (CDSCO) has put in place a system to fast track processing of applications for clinical trials and approval for the COVID-19 vaccines
"The government is also providing 15-day advance visibility of vaccine availability to states/UTs with an advice to prepare and publicise in advance district-wise and COVID-19 vaccination centres wise (CVCs) plan," wrote Mandaviya. A communication strategy is in place with a focus to sustain vaccine confidence and address vaccine hesitancy. The communication strategy will be implemented across all states and UTs.
The Centre expects that an adequate quantity of COVID vaccine will be available between January 2021 to December 2021 to vaccinate eligible beneficiaries aged 18 years and above.
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