Production of both Covishield and Covaxin – Covid-19 vaccines from Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech – is set to rise from next month. The target of 1.35 bn vaccine doses between August and December, however, looks like a long haul.
According to a response given in the Rajya Sabha, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said recently that the monthly production capacity of Covishield is projected to increase from 110 mn doses to more than 120 mn doses a month, whereas the production capacity of Covaxin is projected to increase from 25 mn doses a month to around 58 mn doses a month.
Mandaviya added that apart from this, the Centre has also facilitated further capacity augmentation of Covaxin at central public sector enterprises including Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai; Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), Hyderabad and Bharat Immunologicals Biologicals Limited (BIBCOL), Bulandshahr. “In addition, technology transfer of Covaxin production to Gujarat Covid Vaccine Consortium (GCVC), including Hester Biosciences and OmniBRx Biotechnologies Pvt Ltd, led by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC), Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of Gujarat has also been facilitated,” he said.
At 58 mn doses a month, Covaxin production would roughly be around 232 mn doses between September and December. At 120 mn doses a month, Covishield production would roughly be around 480 mn doses a month.
According to an affidavit in the Supreme Court in June, the Union government had said that 1.35 bn doses would be needed to vaccinate the adult population between August and December. This was a downward revision of the earlier estimate of 2.1 bn doses that the Centre had indicated it expects between August and December.
In the affidavit, the Centre had noted that 1.86 to 1.88 billion doses are required to vaccinate the adult population of 930-940 million. Of this, 516 million doses will be made available by July 31, leaving a requirement of approximately 1.35 billion doses to complete the vaccination to the eligible population.
Of the 1.35 billion doses, 500 million will be of Covishield and 400 million of Covaxin. The government expects 100 million doses of Russian made Sputnik-V. Another 300 million will come from Biological E subunit vaccine and 50 mn from Zydus Cadila.
According to Mandaviya’s statement in the Rajya Sabha, Covishield supplies would meet the target of 500 mn doses between August and December. However, it looks like Covaxin would miss the target of 400 mn unless the partner sites of Bharat Biotech ramp up very rapidly.
Earlier this week, VK Paul, member (health) NITI Aayog said that the quantum jump in Covaxin supplies will come from Bharat Biotech’s Bengaluru facility. This has a large reactor and system established by them and the contribution of supplies have started coming, Paul had indicated.
Meanwhile, the Centre has also indicated that Indian Immunologicals Limited is likely to start supply of an additional 2 million doses of Covaxin from August-September. Also, Bharat Biotech’s Ankleshwar facility is likely to add 6 million doses over the next few months.
|Vaccine||Quantity that may be available through all sources||
May 13 estimates
|400 mn||550 mn|
|Biological E subunit vaccine||300 mn||300 mn|
|100 mn||156 mn|
|Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine||50 mn||50 mn|
BB Nasal vaccine
|Gennova mRNA vaccine||0||60 mn|
|Total||1.35 bn||2.16 bn|
Source: Affidavit filed by Union of India in Supreme Court. MoHFW said in Rajya Sabha in August - Covishield production – 120 mn doses per month; Covaxin production – 58 mn doses per month
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin production faced a slowdown after its newly re-purposed manufacturing facility at Bengaluru (which has a large-scale fermentation plant) faced initial glitches during standardization of the first few batches in June and July. The company was supplying around 20 mn doses of Covaxin a month and that is projected to increase to 25 mn doses this month.
For the 1.35 bn doses roadmap, supplies of Russia’s Sputnik V, Biological E’s vaccine as well Zydus Cadila’s DNA-plasmid vaccine too are expected. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, the distributor of Sputnik V in India has said it has so far received 3.15 mn doses of component 1 and 450,000 doses of component 2 of the Sputnik V vaccine in India. Supplies from Indian sites including SII are expected from September-October. Meanwhile, Zydus Cadila is awaiting the approval from India’s drug regulator, and Biological E is conducting clinical trials.
As of May 13, the Union health ministry had estimated 750 million doses of Covishield, 550 million of Covaxin, 156 million of Sputnik V, apart from 200 million of Novavax vaccine (made here by Serum Institute), 100 million of the nasal vaccine from Bharat Biotech, 60 mn of Gennova’s mRNA vaccine, and 50 mn of DNA-plasmid vaccine of Zydus.
Later in June, Novavax, Gennova mRNA and Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccines were scrapped off the list.