48.68 crore Covid vaccine doses manufactured in India: Govt

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New Delhi, Jul 20 (PTI) Till July 17, a total of 48.68 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines were manufactured in the country, the government informed Parliament on Tuesday.

In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on the steps taken by the government to increase production of vaccines, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Ministry of Science and Technology is implementing the 'Mission COVID Suraksha - the Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission'.

Under the mission, facility augmentation for production of Covaxin is being supported, whereby Bharat Biotech and three public sector enterprises (PSEs) -- Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Limited in Mumbai, Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL) in Hyderabad and Bharat Immunologicals Biologicals Limited (BIBCOL) in Bulandshahr -- are being supported.

Additionally, the technology transfer of Covaxin production to a consortium of partners, including Hester Biosciences and OmniBRx Biotechnologies Private Limited and led by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) under the Department of Science and Technology of the Gujarat government, is being facilitated by the DBT.

'These efforts are expected to enhance the production of Covaxin in the coming months. The Government of India has provided 100 per cent advance payment against supply orders placed with vaccine manufacturers to enable them to utilise these funds for capacity augmentation,' the minister said.

The government has also provided financial assistance to one of the domestic vaccine manufacturers for 'at-risk manufacturing' of COVID-19 vaccines.

The regulatory norms have also been streamlined for the approval of vaccines in India that have received the Emergency Use License (EUL) by the FDA of the United States, the MHRA of the United Kingdom, the PMDA of Japan or the WHO-EUL.

'Till 17th July 2021, a total of 48.68 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been manufactured in India,' Pawar said.

On the precautionary measures that have been taken to combat the third wave of the pandemic, she said the health ministry continues to monitor the COVID-19 trajectory right up to the district level.

The guiding principle to minimise and avert the risk of future resurgence of cases is the five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccinate and Covid-appropriate behaviour, Pawar added.

Besides, the states are also being provided with the requisite technical and financial support to prepare for and respond to any exigencies arising out of a rapid spurt in the number of cases, she said.

In addition, the government has supported the states and Union territories with ventilators, oxygen cylinders, PSA (pressure swing adsorption) plants, drugs and diagnostics as well as financial assistance for augmentation of hospital beds.

A new scheme -- India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package: Phase-II (ERCP-II) -- amounting to Rs 23,123 crore has been approved for the 2021-22 financial year, which aims to prevent, detect and respond to the continuing threat posed by COVID-19 and strengthen the national health systems, the minister said. PTI PLB RC

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