- The health ministry would pay Biological-E, a Hyderabad-based company, an advance payment of Rs. 1500 crore.
- According to the Centre, the vaccine from Biological-E is expected to be available in the coming months.
- From August through December 2021, Biological-E will manufacture and stockpile the doses, says the ministry.
In order to meet immunisation target, the central government has reserved 30 crore doses of Hyderabad-based Biological-E’s Covid vaccine, which is still in clinical trials. The Health Ministry will pay the company an advance of Rs. 1,500 crores for the vaccine, which will be the country’s second made-in-India vaccine after Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
According to the ministry, “From August to December, Biological-E will manufacture and stockpile the doses, which will be available “in the next few months.”
The move comes after widespread criticism of the Centre’s vaccination programme, which was found to be inadequate when India was attacked by a second wave of Covid in March-April. The administration had to put a halt to Covid shot exports under its “Vaccine Maitri” programme and scrambled to get extra doses to solve the country’s shortage. As experts warn about a third wave of Covid, the delayed roll-out has become a major source of concern.
According to the government, Biological- E’s vaccine is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials after showing good results in Phases 1 and 2.
Apart from Covaxin and Covishield from the Serum Institute of India, Russia’s Sputnik V will be used to vaccinate people in the coming days as the government aims to reach a target of one crore immunizations per day by August. It is also in discussion with foreign pharmaceutical companies like as Pfizer and Moderna, who have demanded an indemnity clause.
According to the Central government, the new vaccination deal is “part of the government’s broader effort to encourage indigenous vaccine makers” by giving them support in research and development and cost assistance.
The Department of Biotechnology, which also worked with the company to perform other studies, gave Biological-E’s shot a financial boost of Rs 100 crore, as per the government.
According to the statement, this is part of the government’s objective to support five or six new COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
As per National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration suggestion Biological- E’s indigenous was approved for COVID-19 or NEGVAC.
Biological E also has a separate contract with Johnson & Johnson to produce around 600 million doses of the COVID-19 shot each year. On Tuesday, the firm announced that it has signed a licencing agreement with Providence Therapeutics Holdings to manufacture mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in India.