Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh launched Bharat Biotech's nasal Covid vaccine, iNCOVACC, on the occasion of Republic Day on Thursday.
He launched the vaccine in the presence of Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh.
The Union health ministry said the roll-out of iNCOVACC is expected to begin in private hospitals which have placed advance orders for the same.
Although the initial manufacturing capacity of several million doses per annum has been established, it can be scaled up to a billion doses as required. iNCOVACC is priced at Rs 325 per dose for large volume procurement by state governments and the Government of India.
The company, in a statement, said the vaccine is now available on CoWIN, and priced at Rs 800 for private markets and Rs 325 for supplies to the central and state governments.
Developed by Bharat Biotech, iNCOVACC is the world's first intranasal COVID-19 vaccine to receive approval for the primary two-dose schedule, and as a heterologous booster dose for adults.
It is developed by the Bharat Biotech International Limited in collaboration with the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a PSU under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology.
Expressing his elation at the event, Mandaviya said over 65 per cent of vaccines supplied in the world are from India.
Congratulating the BBIL team and the Department of Biotechnology for bringing about the vaccine, he stated that “being the world's first intra-nasal COVID-19 vaccine, this marks a glorious tribute to the call for Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
The health minister added that India's vaccine manufacturing and innovation capability is appreciated all over the world as it has made a mark in producing quality and affordable medicines.
He also highlighted that BBIL in collaboration with ICMR had introduced Covaxin in India within a month of the launch of the first Covid vaccine in the world.
Congratulating BBIL for innovating another vaccine in collaboration with BIRAC, Jitendra Singh said, “India has taken a lead in developing vaccines and medicines for diseases common in the developing world."
He credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal intervention and regular monitoring for inspiring and enabling the launch of "Mission Covid Suraksha" which he said has not only strengthened AatmaNirbhar Bharat, but also bolstered India's status as a worldwide vaccine development and manufacturing centre, thus showcasing the strength of the country's Science and Technology capabilities.
“Next step will be to develop vaccines for non-communicable diseases," he added.
Singh also stated that ZyCoV-D, the world's first and India's indigenously developed DNA-based vaccine against coronavirus to be administered in humans, including children and adults 12 years and above, was also developed in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology under Mission Covid Suraksha through BIRAC.
iNCOVACC is a cost effective Covid vaccine which does not require syringes, needles, alcohol wipes, bandages, among others, thus saving costs related to procurement, distribution, storage and biomedical waste disposal which are routinely required for injectable vaccines, he said.
It utilises a vector-based platform, which can be easily updated with emerging variants leading to large scale production, within a few months. These rapid response timelines combined with the ability of cost effective and easy intranasal delivery make it an ideal vaccine to address future infectious diseases, he added.