New Delhi: Under pressure from several states to increase the production of the two vaccines available in India, the Centre on Thursday said it is ready to allow private companies to manufacture the country's indigenous vaccine Covaxin.
Covaxin is jointly developed by ICMR and Bharat Biotech and is currently being produced by Bharat Biotech. The government has now engaged five Public Sector Undertakings to help increase production of Covaxin. Since under this vaccine, live virus is inactivated, any company making this vaccine must have Bio-Safety Lab level 3 labs.
Covishield is developed by Oxford University and produced by AstraZenca and Serum Institute of India. The patent for the vaccine is not with India.
"While people are welcome to make Covaxin there is only a problem with the technology platform. The company making this vaccine must have Bio-Safety Lab level 3 to ensure bio safety of the virus. We give an open invitation to companies who want to produce as per our norms. Even Bharat Biotech has welcomed our decision to open up production to other players and it has also reached out to a few companies. Centre will assist in all ways to increase the capacity of vaccines,” said Dr VK Paul, member NITIA Aayog, who is part of Centre’s major policy decisions on health.
Government has been facing criticism due to shortage of vaccines particularly Covaxin that was given full permission at a later stage compared to Covishield. Several states have suggested the government to open up its production to other companies as well to increase supplies.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Mr Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had earlier urged Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi to direct Bharat Biotech and ICMR-NIV to transfer the Covaxin manufacturing technology and provide the viral strain to all those who are capable of manufacturing the vaccine and ramp up production as present rate of vaccines output was slow and did not cater to the country's requirement.
“It may take several months to get all vaccinated at this pace. Please explore the possibility of involving all such production firms and enable them with the technology, intellectual property rights to deliver the vaccine as quickly and as affordable as possible. Anyone who can manufacture or is interested in manufacturing the vaccine should be encouraged to do so in the larger public interest," Andhra CM said.
Bharat Biotech's Joint Managing Director Suchitra Ella has on Wednesday said the company was working overtime to supply vaccines despite hardships of lockdown and 50 of employees testing positive to COVID.