“Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech together could meet this target with regulatory and procedural help by the government,” one of the officials told ET.
At present, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is manufacturing 60 million doses of the Covishield vaccine a month and Hyderabad’s Bharat Biotech is producing 4 million doses of its Covaxin.
One of the ways discussed at Sunday’s meeting with the PM was expanding manufacturing to more facilities. However, this would require regulatory approvals, including for the manufacturing and storage facilities, the officials said.
The government is aiming to increase vaccination as the country is battling a second wave of the coronavirus infection, with new daily cases crossing the 100,000-mark for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. The Prime Minister is scheduled to hold a meeting with chief ministers on Thursday to discuss the vaccination drive and ways to combat the second wave of Covid-19.
SII Missed Previous Target
One of the concerns amid this drive is SII’s failure to meet its previously stated targets, said the official who was quoted earlier.
Last year, before it received the emergency use approval for the vaccine, SII had said it would start producing over 100 million doses a month by February, but the company hasn’t crossed the 60 million-mark yet, said the official.
ET last week reported that SII was targeting to produce 100 million doses by May. But the company has yet to confirm this target.
Maharashtra, which is reporting more than half the new Covid cases, last month proposed producing Covaxin at state-owned Haffkine Bio Pharmaceuticals, provided Bharat Biotech transferred its technology to the institute. The state government has also offered that the vaccine developer could use its bottling facility. Another facility being considered to ramp up Covaxin’s production is in Bengaluru, people in the know said.
The company did not respond to ET’s request for comment.
Bharat Biotech has also sought help of up to Rs 100 crore from the government in order to ramp up vaccine production, ET has reported.
Meanwhile, Indian regulators have asked Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, which is in a tie-up to manufacture the Russia-developed Sputnik V vaccine in India, to submit more data on the product.