To support vaccination campaigns in India and across the globe, Bharat Biotech has ramped up the manufacturing capacity of its COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, to 700 million doses per annum, the vaccine maker said on Tuesday.
Manufacturing scale up has been carried out in a step-wise manner across multiple facilities at Hyderabad and Bangalore, the company said in a statement.
Sources told news agency Press Trust of India the company had a production capacity of 200 million doses of Covaxin in the beginning.
Meanwhile, the chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech, Krishna Ella, during an event said that the company will produce 30 million doses of Covaxin next month against around 20 million doses this month and 15 million in the last month.
"Last month we produced 15 million doses, this month we are reaching 20 million doses, next month we will be making around 30 million doses followed by 70 to 75 million doses," Krishna Ella said.
He said that the company expects to reach a production capacity of up to 800 million doses per annum by July-August.
"We are ramping up the production and by July-August we will be able to reach 700 to 800 million doses production capacity per annum," Mr Ella said.
The company mentioned that inactivated vaccines, while highly safe, are extremely complex and expensive to manufacture, resulting in lower yields when compared to live virus vaccines.
"The company is able to expand Covaxin manufacturing capacity in a short timeline, mainly due to the availability of new specially designed BSL - 3 facilities, first of its kind for manufacturing in India that have been repurposed and preexisting expertise and know how to manufacture, test and release highly purified inactivated viral vaccines," Bharat Biotech said.
Manufacturing partnerships are being explored with partners in other countries, who have prior expertise with commercial scale manufacture of inactivated viral vaccines under bio safety containment, it added.
The Hyderabad-based firm said it has partnered with Indian Immunologicals (IIL) to manufacture the drug substance for Covaxin.
The technology transfer process is well underway and IIL has the capabilities and expertise to manufacture inactivated viral vaccines at commercial scale and under bio safety containment, it added.
The company said it uses a proprietary adjuvant Algel-IMDG, that has now proven to be a safe and effective adjuvant, especially to stimulate memory T cell responses. The synthesis and manufacture of the IMDG component has been successfully indigenised and will be manufactured at commercial scale within the country.
"This is the first instance where a novel adjuvant has been commercialised in India," Bharat Biotech said.
Covaxin has received Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for COVID-19 treatment in India and in several countries across the globe with another 60 in the process, it added.
EUA's have now been obtained from Mexico, the Philippines, Iran, Paraguay, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Guyana, Venezuela, Botswana, Zimbabwe, among several other countries. Besides, EUA's are in process in the US and several European countries, the company said.
Pricing for international markets and supplies to governments under EUA's have been established between USD 15-20 per dose, it added.
Highlighting the need for vaccination, Mr Ella said injectable vaccines only protect the lower lung not the upper lung so many people may still get the disease after vaccination but it won't be lethal and one gets protection against the seriousness of the disease. Wearing a mask is a must even after vaccination.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)