India has done better than any country in the world as regards to affordability and the reach to the people of COVID-19 vaccines, Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella said on Sunday. In his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India takes pride in having the world's largest vaccination programme, and over 54 crore people have already taken the COVID-19 vaccines.
The prime minister also lauded those involved in vaccine manufacturing in the country and said India did not have to depend on the outside world for vaccines against the coronavirus.
Highlighting the enormity of the task of vaccination, Ella said, "When you have 1.3 billion people to be given a vaccine in a certain period of time, it is challenging."
The US has more vaccines than India, but only 16 crore people there are vaccinated.
"In India, I'm proud to say that we have done a great job," he added.
"We have done better in terms of affordability and the reach to the people. We've done better than any country in the world," Ella said at the TIMES NOW India at 75: The Freedom Summit.
About the contribution and efforts of Bharat Biotech in regards to vaccination efforts, Ella said that apart from Covaxin, the company has also developed a intranasal vaccine for COVID-19.
"We are working on a combination of Covaxin followed by nasal, so that Covaxin primes the system of innate immunity and then the boost by the nasal which produces three immune responses – the IgG, the IgA and then mucosal immunity," he said.
All three immunities are powerful and can protect a person from getting infected, he added.
"We might have, in the next two months, a lot of data coming out of that. So, we are working on not just this but also a booster dose of Covaxin," Ella said.
On being asked if a third dose is required, Ella replied in affirmative and said, "Yes, we will give the data to the government, it's for the government to take the decision with its regulatory agencies but we are certainly working on the nasal to plug in along with this. If the nasal works out very well, our production capacity doubles. This is what we're hoping too."
The first nasal vaccine against COVID-19, developed by Bharat Biotech, has received the regulator's nod for conducting phase-2 clinical trials, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) had said on Friday.
"Bharat Biotech's intranasal vaccine is the first nasal vaccine that has received the regulatory approval for phase-2 trials," DBT had said in a statement.
Phase-1 clinical trial has been completed in age groups ranging from 18 to 60 years, it had added. BBV154 is an intranasal replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus SARS-CoV-2 vectored vaccine.
Earlier on August 6, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya had said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha that facility augmentation of Bharat Biotech and three public sector enterprises is being supported for enhancing production of COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin.