More vaccine makers will be joining India’s vaccination drive in the coming months. Apart from Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Sputnik V vaccine, the country will soon have vaccines from Biological E and Zydus Cadila to scale up the programme. The country is targeting to vaccinate a large section of the population to prevent another surge in the next wave of the pandemic.
VK Paul, member (health) of the Niti Aayog, said vaccine maker Biological E will have a capacity to make 75 million vaccines per month from September 2021. Biological E had a good track record of manufacturing vaccines and they had developed an Indian vaccine with funding support from the Indian government so it has been decided to make an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore for reserving 300 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, Paul said. Biological E’s vaccine is undergoing Phase-3 clinical trials and Paul is hopeful of trials being completed on time and vaccines being made available soon.
Speaking at a media briefing of the ministry of health and family welfare, Paul said Zydus Cadila could be going in for an Emergency Use Licensure for their vaccine in the next two weeks. Cadila Helathcare would be seeking emergency use approval for their ZyCoV-D vaccine, which is undergoing Phase-3 trials and commercial production is expected to begin by end of June 2021. For ZyCoV-D, the company has taken a novel approach, using the DNA platform for developing the vaccine. The vaccine can be stored between two and eight degrees and is easier to handle from a cold chain and logistics point of view.
According to Paul, the Zydus Cadila trials have also covered children and would play a part when vaccination for them is introduced. Bharat Biotech is also conducting trials on children for Covaxin and they are unlikely to take time as these would be immunogenicity trials, Paul said. The child cohort between 12 and 18 years in the country would be 13 to 14 crore, which means the country would need around 25 to 26 crore doses. Vaccination for kids could be started only when there is visibility on availability.
Paul said vaccine availability in the county was expected to be better in June 2021 compared to May 2021. In terms of number of people who received at least one dose of vaccine, India has administered 17.2 crore doses and overtaken US which had reached 16.9 crore doses. Data from China is not included in this data set.
India has till date covered 43% of the 60 years and above population with at least one dose of the vaccine. Nearly 37% of those above 45 years have been given the first dose of the vaccine.