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Will explore if Covaxin can be made by private institutions too: Centre

by Vaishali Sharma

As Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will now be manufactured by two public sector undertakings, the Centre on Saturday said that private firms can also come forward to give a leg up in India’s vaccine production. Talks are on with others, Niti Aayog (health) member Dr VK Paul said adding that such decision of technology and knowledge transfer entails a long process.

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will now be produced by Hyderabad’s Indian Immunologicals Limited, Uttar Pradesh’s Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Corporation and Mumbai’s Haffkine Institute for Training, Research and Testing. Once they start production, 13 crore doses of Covaxin will be produced in a month, according to the government’s estimate. Out of these 13 crore doses, Bharat Biotech will produce 10 crore, while the three firms will produce one crore doses each.

“These tie-ups are not done over a week. That’s not how complex technologies are transferred. There was an assessment of whether the vaccine can be made there. Following that there was training, fund allocation and then there was an agreement to formalise the entire arrangement,” Dr Paul said.

Covaxin can’t be made anywhere, Dr Paul said explaining that the vaccine-making process deals with live virus. “This can be done only in very sophisticated, biological safety level 3 labs so that the virus can not affect the scientists. A garment factory can not start producing the vaccine from tomorrow,” Dr Paul said.

Any narrative that discourages the country’s scientific institutions should not be indulged, Dr Paul said asserting that the Central government shares a partnership with all institutions engaged in vaccine making. “The two vaccine makers consider us as partners. They have honoured their contracts and made vaccines for the country.”

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