The Central government is increasing the pace of Covid-19 domestic vaccine production to vaccinate the entire eligible population at the earliest.
As part of this initiative, three public enterprises (PSUs) are being supported by the Department of Biotechnology under Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 Mission Covid Suraksha, Ministry of Science and technology announced in a press release.
These enterprises are the Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Limited, Mumbai, Indian Immunologicals Limited, Hyderabad and Bharat Immunologicals & Biologicals Limited, Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh.
Haffkine Biopharma, a Maharashtra state PSU, is preparing to manufacture Covaxin vaccine under a technology transfer arrangement with Bharat Biotech Limited, Hyderabad. The production will take place at the Parel complex of the company.
Dr Sandeep Rathod, Managing Director of Haffkine, said the company proposes to produce 22.8 crore doses of Covaxin in a year. “For undertaking production of Covaxin, Haffkine Biopharma has been provided with Rs 65 crore grant by the Centre and Rs 94 crore from the Government of Maharashtra”, he added.
“We have been given a timeline of eight months and the work is being executed on a war footing. The vaccine production process involves two stages – drug substance and final drug product. For production of drug substance we need to build a Bio Safety Level 3 (BSL 3) facility, while Haffkine already has the Fill Finish facility,” said Rathod, the doctor turned IAS officer. BSL 3 is a safety standard applicable to such facilities where work involves microbes that can cause critical disease via the inhalation route.
Haffkine BioPharmaceutical is a branch of the 122-year-old Haffkine Institute, one of the oldest biomedical research institutes in the country, named after the Russian bacteriologist Dr Waldemar Haffkine who invented the plague vaccine.