Soumya Swaminathan said it is a "matter of time" before these issues are addressed
Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation, today assured that the freeze on Bharat Biotech's Covaxin supply does not involve the safety or efficacy of the vaccine, but some issues in manufacturing processes for which corrective actions are being taken.
"First thing I would like to reassure is, no doubts have been raised on the safety and efficacy of Covaxin. Those have been shown and confirmed through clinical trials," Ms Swaminathan told NDTV in an exclusive interview today.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation had suspended the supply of Covaxin through United Nations agencies. The health body had said it was meant to allow the manufacturer to upgrade facilities and address deficiencies found during an inspection.
Confirming it, Ms Swaminathan said when a physical examination of the Bharat Biotech manufacturing facilities was conducted -- which was not done earlier -- there were "some points discovered" which related to compliance with the processes.
Many of these, she said, were about automation of processes when it converted from the manual process.
It is a matter of time before these issues are addressed. "Once requirements are met, the suspension will be revoked," and after that the supply can be restored, she added.
On why the discrepancy in processes crept up, Ms Swaminathan said in the beginning, there was a need to "really manufacture the vaccine quickly to provide for the demand". This is why, some of these processes were probably "delayed a little bit", she added.
"Do not worry if you have taken Covaxin. It is a good vaccine, it does what it is supposed to do," she added.
Following the WHO announcement, news agency Press Trust of India reported that the suspension will not have any impact since Bharat Biotech had not supplied the vaccine to any UN agency, quoting sources in the company.
The firm has supplied vaccines only to the Indian government and nine countries under the Centre's Vaccine Maitri programme, PTI reported.