The Ministry of Science and Technology under Mission Covid Suraksha has announced the increase in production of indigenous Covid vaccine by May- June 2021 in the country.
On Friday, April 16, the ministry in a press release, informed that by July-August 2021, the production capacity of the vaccines will be increased nearly 6-7 fold.
In other words, the production of one crore vaccine doses will be increased to 6-7 crore vaccine doses/month in July-August. By September 2021, the numbers are expected to reach nearly 20 crore doses per month.
According to the press release, the Department of Biotechnology will also provide financial support to vaccine manufacturing facilities under the Suraksha mission.
Approximately Rs 65 crores will be provided to Bharat Biotech’s new Bangalore facility as a grant from the Government of India for the increase in vaccine production.
Three public sectors companies, Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai, Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), Hyderabad, Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Limited (BIBCOL), Bulandshahr, are also being funded to increase the capacity of vaccine production to provide 10-15 million doses per month by August-September 2021.
Adar Poonawala Urges Joe Biden to lift ban on raw materials for vaccine to beat Covid-19
On April 16, Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive, Serum Institute of India (SII) in a tweet urged US President Joe Biden to lift the US embargo on exporting raw materials to help ramp up the Covid-19 vaccine production.
Oxford-AstraZeneca has served a legal notice to Pune-based Serum Institute for delays in deliveries.
SII’s Covishield has already delivered over 100 million doses to India and exported around 60 million doses to other countries.
Poonawalla wrote, “Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details.”
Earlier, Poonawalla had mentioned, the production of Covid vaccines is suffering due to Europe and the US’s ban on the export of critical raw material. He also mentioned that SII would require around Rs 3,000 crore to speed up the covid vaccine production.
Intellectual Property Rights and Covid Vaccines:
To boost production and access to poorer countries, India and South Africa have called for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights at the WTO Council Meeting in November.
On October 16, and November 20, 2020, WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Council had discussed the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights to enable poor countries to access COVID-19 vaccines and other new technologies.
But some rich and developed nations are brazenly indulging in vaccine hoarding and pre-booking denying the precious doses to third world countries.
Nearly 190 countries joined the COVAX initiative but of them, wealthy countries have directly negotiated deals with vaccine manufacturers.
According to a report, rich countries which account for 16% of the world’s population have already secured more than 50% of the world’s vaccine production.
At this rate, low-income countries might find it impossible to reach a decent vaccination level anytime soon.
According to the proposal, a temporary ban could allow multiple players to start production sooner, instead of having manufacturing concentrated in the hands of a small number of patent holders.
At a special ministerial meeting yesterday, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccine equity is the challenge of the time, and as WHO statistics have shown that of more than 832 million vaccine doses that have been administered globally, over 82 per cent have gone to high-or upper-middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.2 per cent.
He urged nations to immediately donate vaccine doses that are over their needs to COVAX, increase vaccine production and give voluntary licenses, waive certain intellectual property provisions, and invest in local vaccine manufacturing.
Vaccine initiatives around the world
Four vaccine initiatives were instituted in order to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and production of vaccines:-
– OWS (Operation Warp Seed), a collaboration between various US government agencies;
– ACTIV- a part of OWS, US’s NHS (National Health Service) partnered with 18 biopharmaceutical companies;
– COVPN (COVID-19 Prevention Trails Network)-coordinates clinical trial network;
– COVAX is part of WHO’s Access to COVID Tools (ACT) Accelerator, spearheaded by Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and WHO, whose goal is to offer low-cost COVID vaccines to countries.
India and Vaccine Maitri
Meanwhile, India has generously offered vaccines to over 92 countries and supplied a total of 655.718 lakhs vaccines under its policy, Vaccine Maitri during these tough times.