Covaxin’s quality problems slowed down vaccine supply, says Covid-19 panel chief
NK Arora clarified that the batches that did not meet the quality standards were not released to the public.
Covid-19 task force member NK Arora has admitted that the supply of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin slowed down because the first few batches of the vaccine produced at the company’s new facility did not meet quality expectations, reported NDTV on Monday.
Arora, the chairperson of the Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, clarified that the batches that did not meet the quality standards were not released to the public.
In an interview with NDTV, Arora added that the problem has been resolved now. “But the third and fourth batches have now come up which have moved forward,” he said. “We hope in the next four or six weeks the vaccine production will really ramp up from Bharat Biotech.”
Arora said that the new facility in Bengaluru was one of the largest vaccine manufacturing plants globally and the production of the vaccines will be ramped up. “In addition, three public sector undertaking are also working together to augment the total output,” he told the news channel. “Ultimately we are expecting 10-12 crore doses from Bharat Biotech.”
To meet the Centre’s target of vaccinating all adults by December-end, India needs 30 crore vaccines doses a month to inoculate about a crore citizens a day. When asked if Bharat Biotech can ramp up production from about one or two crores a day to 10 crore to meet this target, Arora said: “I am given to understand that in the next few weeks it is possible that they will increase production several-fold.”
The task force member also gave details of the production of vaccines in India, according to ANI. “Serum Institute [manufactures] almost 8 to 10 crore doses, 3 to 3.5 crore [comes from] from Bharat Biotech and [a] small contribution [is] from Sputnik also,” he told ANI. “In August and coming months, there will be an exponential increase in the availability of vaccines and administration.”
Referring to Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India, which produces Covishield, as the country’s major vaccine suppliers, Arora asserted that the government hopes that these manufactures will be the driver for completing adult immunisation.
Arora also denied there was any problem in technology transfer from Bharat Biotech to the facilities that will manufacture vaccines to boost supply. He said that biopharmaceutical company Indian Immunologicals would start production in the next two to three months.
“And Haffkine and BIBCOL [Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Limited] will take much longer,” he told NDTV. “The technology transfer is on track.”
India has so far administered 47,41,32,992 vaccine doses, according to government data. Of this, 10,43,48,702 beneficiaries have received both doses.
On Monday morning, the country recorded 40,134 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections to 3,16,95,958 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. With 422 deaths, India’s toll rose to 4,24,773, while the number of active cases went up by 2,766 to 4,13,718.
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