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Hyderabad, NFAPost: Vaccine maker Bharat Biotech in April expanded its Covaxin-manufacturing capacity to 500 million doses a year, the company said in a statement on Sunday.

It supplied 20 million doses to the “national roll-out” in April. In a tweet, Bharat Biotech Joint Managing Director Suchitra Ella said: “To our supporters and critics, ever since the start of the pandemic, team Bharat Biotech has been diligently developing Covaxin and scaling up manufacturing capacities to meet global and public health requirements.”

Key strain

In the same tweet, Suchitra Ella also pointed out that Covaxin neutralises key emerging strains of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, including the double mutant B.1.617 and B.1.1.7– identified in India and the UK. She gave a timeline capturing Covaxin’s journey.

The company had stated in April that the manufacturing scale-up has been carried out in a stepwise manner across multiple facilities at Hyderabad and Bengaluru. “Inactivated vaccines, while highly safe, are extremely complex and expensive to manufacture, resulting in lower yields when compared to live virus vaccines,” the company had stated.

The Hyderabad-based company source said the Bengaluru facility is getting re-purposed, and that will add another 200 million doses annually when completed. We are targeting 700 million doses a year.”

Procurement order

The Union health ministry last week said it had procured or was in process of procuring 356 million doses of Covid vaccines including Covishield (276 million) and Covaxin (80 million).

The orders have been in tranches — for phase 2 the Central government gave orders for 20 million doses of Covaxin, of which 86 per cent has been received and the rest will come by the end of May. And for 50 million doses of Covaxin for phase 3 of Covid vaccination, the deliveries will happen between May and July.

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