Not Without India: World's Pharmacy Gears Up For Vaccine Race

With nearly 10 million infections, the world's second-highest after the United States, India's government is likely to order a huge chunk of the vaccines for its 1.3 billion people

Not Without India: World's Pharmacy Gears Up For Vaccine Race

Much of India's vaccine production could be, at least initially, for domestic use.

India, the world's biggest vaccine maker, is getting ready for the massive global effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic with its pharmaceutical industry and partners freeing up capacity and accelerating investments even without firm purchase orders.

India manufactures more than 60 per cent of all vaccines sold across the globe, and while its $40 billion pharmaceutical sector is not yet involved in the production of the expensive Pfizer Inc and Moderna shots, the nation will play a pivotal role in immunizing much of the world.

Indian pharmaceutical companies are set to produce eight, more affordable vaccines designed to fight COVID-19, including AstraZeneca's Covishield, called the “vaccine for the world” by its developers.

“There are many vaccines being produced in countries around the world but there's only one nation that has the manufacturing capacity to produce sufficient quantities to satisfy the demands of citizens in every country, and that's India,” said Australia's ambassador to India, Barry O'Farrell, after touring vaccine manufacturing sites in India with many other diplomats.

Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's biggest vaccine maker, has already stockpiled more than 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot, even as it awaits emergency-use approvals from both British and Indian authorities.

SII plans to make a total of 400 million doses of Covishield by July and is setting up new production lines to roll out roughly one billion shots a year.

Pharmaceutical packager Schott Kaisha, meanwhile, is stepping up production of vaccine vials and Deutsche Post's DHL is working out how best to distribute the shots within the country and around the world.