Amid complaints of shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, the Centre on Saturday said it plans to ramp up the production of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine from 1.5 crore doses to about 10 crore doses every month.
Further, the total production of Covaxin doses would be scaled up up to 13 crore doses a month when three public sector units start manufacturing to help meet the shortage, V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog said.
“Going forward, the government would look at more private industry players to scale up the production of Covaxin,” Paul said at a briefing by the ministry of health and family welfare.
Haffkine Biopharmaceuticals in Mumbai, Indian Immunologicals in Hyderabad and Bulandshahr-based Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals are the three public sector units that will manufacture Covaxin vaccine. Bharat Biotech’s vaccine technology developed with the government was being shared with the three PSUs with a provision of Rs 150-crore funding to scale up production, Paul said.
The government also defended its decision to increase the gap between the first and second doses of the Covishield vaccine to 12 to 16 weeks from its earlier recommendation of a gap of six to eight weeks.
The government refuted charges that the decision to increase the gap between two Covishield doses was taken on account of a shortage of vaccines or under any pressure. “This decision was taken by the country’s scientists based on the conditions and risks and epidemiology,” Paul said.
Responding to the query on the review of the gap between dosages in the UK, Paul said this decision on the schedule was driven by scientific data and on recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI). This time the gap was 60-85% effective in protecting and preventing serious infection and also halted transmission, he said. This was a dynamic process and the science was evolving and could be reviewed based on data available at that point of time, he added.