Covid-19: India Offers Grants To Boost Covaxin Output

Government will offer Rs 65 crore to Bharat Biotech to increase production of Covaxin doses.

A vial of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin vaccine for coronavirus at Sanjeevan Hospital in Daryaganj, New Delhi. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)
A vial of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin vaccine for coronavirus at Sanjeevan Hospital in Daryaganj, New Delhi. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

The Indian government will offer up to Rs 65 crore to Bharat Biotech Ltd. to expand manufacturing capacity for its Covid-19 vaccine—Covaxin—as the country grapples with a shortage of doses amid a second wave.

The financial support will be for Bharat Biotech’s new facility in Bengaluru which is being repurposed to increase production, according to a statement by the Ministry of Science & Technology. With enhanced capacity, production is expected to rise to 6-7 crore doses a month by July-August, from about 1 crore doses currently.

The government expects the production of Covaxin to reach 10 crore doses per month by September 2021.

The move comes as a deadly second wave of Covid-19 has overwhelmed the country’s already crippled healthcare infrastructure. India is reporting more than 2 lakh cases everyday and recently overtook Brazil as the second-worst hit country globally.

Fixing India’s Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Crunch

Grants For Three State-Run Firms

Besides Bharat Biotech, three other state-run companies will also be provided financial support to increase vaccine production.

Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corp., a firm run by the Maharashtra government, will be provided Rs 65 crore to get its facility ready for producing vaccine doses. The company had asked about 12 months to start manufacturing. However, the central government has asked them to expedite and complete the task within six months. The facility, once functional, will be able to produce 2 crore doses every month.

The government will also support Hyderabad’s Indian Immunologicals Ltd. and Bulandshahr’s Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Ltd. to prepare their facilities for producing vaccines. These facilities will be able to produce up to 1-1.5 crore doses every month by August-September 2021.

India May Not Have Enough Doses To Meet Its Covid Vaccination Targets, Data Show

With India way behind its vaccination target, some states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have already pointed towards a shortage of doses. The country recently allowed Russia’s Sputnik V to be administered in India in hopes of easing the shortfall.

The country is also inviting Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and others to seek emergency use approval of their vaccines as early as possible, V.K. Paul, who heads a panel advising Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the country’s inoculation efforts, said at a press briefing on April 13.

As of April 16, active cases in India had crossed a record 15 lakh. More than 2.17 lakh people tested positive on Thursday with over 1,180 deaths.