As states grapple with a shortage of coronavirus vaccines, the Centre on Thursday said that over two billion doses will be made available in the country in five months between August and December, enough to vaccinate the entire population. It also said Russian anti-Covid vaccine Sputnik V is likely to be available by next week.
"Two billion doses (216 crore) will be made in the country in five months for India and for people of India. Vaccine will be available for all as we move forward," Niti Ayog Member VK Paul said, adding by the first quarter of the next year, the number is likely to be three billion, news agency ANI reported.
He estimated that between August to December, production of 75 crore doses of Covishield is estimated, while 55 cores doses of Covaxin will be made available.
Further, Biological E is expected to produce 30 crore doses, Zydus Cadila 5 crore, Serum Institute of India 20 crore doses of Novavax, and Bharat Biotech 10 crore doses of its nasal vaccine, while Gennova will make available 6 crore doses and Sputnik V 15.6 crore doses.Centre rejects Delhi govt charge on Covaxin availability
Centre on Thursday rejected the Delhi government's claim that Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech has refused to provide it "additional" doses and said the national capital has received over 15 lakh doses of the anti-COVID vaccine.
On Tuesday, Deputy Chief minister Manish Sisodia had alleged the Covaxin manufacturer has in a letter said it cannot provide the Delhi government vaccines due to unavailability, under instruction of government officials concerned.
"It means that the central government is controlling supply of the vaccine," Sisodia, who is a senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, had said.
Bharat Biotech ramping up capacity
Addressing a briefing of the Union Health Ministry, Niti Aayog member (health), V K Paul said the government of India's role is to facilitate.
"We refute (the charge) that there is any pressure on anybody not to supply to any particular state," he said, adding that such charges affect the morale of vaccine manufacturers. "It is because of them that we are in the position of not asking others (countries for vaccines)," Paul said.
He said Bharat Biotech is also ramping up its capacity and has already roped in three public sector undertakings.
Bharat Biotech to boost production involving other players
Bharat Biotech on Wednesday had said it is quite disheartening to listen to some states complaining about Bharat Biotech's intentions regarding supply of Covaxin.
On increasing production of Covaxin, Paul said Bharat Biotech has already welcomed the move of ramping up production of doses by involving other players.
"They also reached out and under this initiative, our PSUs have been connected to this process," he said.
Last month, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under Mission COVID Suraksha, spelt out a plan to ramp up production of Covaxin and double it by May-June by roping in three public sector companies (PSUs).
The PSUs are: Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai – a PSU under the Maharashtra government; Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), Hyderabad, a facility under National Dairy Development Board; and Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Limited, Bulandshahr, a PSU of the department of biotechnology, to increase the capacity of vaccine production.
Covaxin production to be doubled by May-June
"The current production capacity of indigenously developed Covaxin will be doubled by May-June 2021 and then increased nearly 6-7 fold by July- August 2021, i.e. increasing the production from 1 crore vaccine doses in April 2021 to 6-7 crore vaccine dose/month in July–August. It is expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021,” the DBT had said.
Reacting to this, Kejriwal has tweeted, "A very welcome step by central government. It will help in ramping up production."
"I also urge Centre to directly procure vaccines from foreign companies rather than each state bidding against each other in international market," he tweeted.
Giving details about Covaxin, Paul also said that it is made by inactivating a live virus.
"This happens only in the BSL3 (Biosafety Laboratory-3) laboratory which is very sophisticated. Such laboratories are mostly not there in other companies. It is not something that every company has. Those companies who want to do this, we give an open invitation and we have already reached out from our side to make it together,” he said.
Still our request is, those who want to make this vaccine, the government will provide full assistance to ramp up the capacity, Paul said.
(With PTI inputs)