Vaccine manufacturers frame plans to boost production


Vaccine makers have started drawing up plans to expand production as they await further clarity on pricing from the central government and orders from the state governments. But supply is expected to increase only from June.

At the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening, vaccine companies were asked to scale up capacities and it is expected that Serum Institute of India’s (SII) capacities will go up by May. It is estimated that production by SII and Bharat Biotech along with Sputnik imports will result in a supply of 200 million vaccines in June, compared to 70 million currently. Vaccine makers were also asked to negotiate prices with hospitals for private market.

The companies, on their part, have requested the government to price jabs at globally competitive rates. Low prices in India could set a benchmark for unremunerative export prices, they said. Companies manufacturing vaccines are looking at a price of Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per dose for the Indian private market, industry insiders told ET.

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Bharat Biotech on Tuesday announced that it will manufacture 700 million doses of the Covaxin vaccine annually. It plans to export the vaccine to over 60 countries and it has fixed a price of $15 to $20 per dose for the international markets. In India, the company could offer the vaccine around $10 per dose, ET has learnt.


‘Tieups with Multiple Channels Likely’


Dr Reddy’s Laboratories plans to import 50 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine by May end or June, said company officials. The vaccine will be sold at $9 per dose in India. “We will reach out to multiple channels and collaborate with them — central government, state governments, private sector, healthcare service providers,” Dr Reddy’s spokesperson told ET.

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Supply of the Russian vaccine is expected to increase after June when the bridging trials conducted by its local contract manufacturers are approved and the drugs regulator inspects their facilities.

The drugs regulator has started inspection of companies such as Hetero Healthcare which has signed up with RDIF (Russian Direct Investment Fund), the country’s sovereign fund that is backing the Sputnik vaccine.

Johnson and Johnson, the US drug major, has submitted an application on Monday to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) requesting approval to conduct a bridging clinical study of its single-dose Janssen Covid-19 vaccine candidate in India. This is likely to be approved by July.

In an interview to ET earlier this month, Ahmedabad-based

had said that it was going to submit data for its DNA vaccine — which will have three doses — for approval in June. The company has a capacity of manufacturing 10 million doses per month with a provision to expand the facility if needed, and is planning to price the vaccine at Rs 250 per dose.

Meanwhile, state officials in Maharashtra said that they were ready to procure the vaccines from companies.

“We were at the mercy of the central government for vaccines. If we get the option to procure on our own, we will go the extra mile to vaccinate citizens of Mumbai,” said a senior BMC official. “We have enough budget to vaccinate 8 million Mumbai citizens,” the official added.



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