Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech on Thursday said it will start producing the vaccine at its Chiron Behring Vaccines unit in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, thereby adding 200 million doses of output per annum. The product is expected to be available from Q4 (October-December) of 2021.
Bharat Biotech said the Ankleshwar facility was already operational for vaccine production based on inactivated vero cell platform technology, under stringent levels of biosafety. The added output will take the volume of Covaxin production to about one billion doses per annum.
In April, the company had said it has ramped up the capacity, from 500 million doses a year, across multiple facilities in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, to reach about 700 million doses. The latest announcement, on the subsidiary set to produce Covaxin, comes at a time when the vaccination programme in the country has slowed down in many parts for want of adequate stocks.
Joint managing director Suchitra Ella had earlier this week announced despatch of Covaxin to private hospitals in 25 cities.
The indigenously developed Covaxin, and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield are the two vaccines in use since the vaccination drive began across the country in mid-January. Russia’s Sputnik V was added to the campaign, but it is expected to be sometime before adequate quantities of the imported vaccine are available to inoculate a large population. Limited pilot programmes involving Sputnik V were rolled out a few days ago, with plans to take it initially to 35 cities.
In February 2019, announcing the acquisition of Chiron Behring Vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline for an undisclosed amount, Bharat Biotech had said the target company has a 15 million doses-a-year rabies vaccine manufacturing facility in Ankleshwar.