As more and more states flag shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Central government has pressed the accelerator to scale up vaccine production manifold.
Top government sources said that by end of the third quarter of this year, India will be getting vaccines from five additional manufacturers. India currently manufactures Covishield and Covaxin.
Explaining the new strategy to manufacture additional vaccine doses, a source said, "India currently has 2 COVID-19 vaccines being manufactured locally: Covishield and Covaxin, and we can expect five more vaccines by Q3 2021. These vaccines are Sputnik V vaccine (in collaboration with Dr Reddy's), Johnson & Johnson vaccine (in collaboration with Biological E), Novavax vaccine (in collaboration with Serum India), Zydus Cadila's vaccine, and Bharat Biotech's Intranasal Vaccine. Safety and efficacy are the Union government's primary concerns while granting emergency use authorisation to any COVID-19 vaccine in the country."
Out of almost 20 COVID-19 vaccines in various clinical and pre-clinical stages, Sputnik V vaccine will get the nod first. It is expected that Sputnik is likely to get the EUA within the next 10 days.
Russian Direct Investment Fund has tied up with a host of Indian pharmaceutical players such as Hyderabad based Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Hetero Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Stelis Biopharma and Vichrow Biotech for the production of vaccine doses. With a production capacity of 850 million doses in the country, Sputnik V will provide a major shot in the arm in the fight against COVID-19.
When asked from a top-level source when will the vaccines be available for use, he said, "Sputnik is expected to be available latest by June, if all goes well Johnson and Johnson (Bio E) will be available by August, Cadilla Zydus will also be available by August, Novavex (Serum) by September and Nasal Vaccine (Bharat) by October."
The government is making all efforts to accelerate the progress without cutting any corners in research, development, and clinical trial stages, the source added.
The government is taking all steps to augment vaccine production and availability in India. A decision has been taken at the highest level to ensure all steps are taken to help domestic manufacturers to scale up vaccine production manifold.
"The Government of India is determined to ensure India remains the pharmacy of the world and Indians have equitable access to the highest quality vaccines in the world. We encourage all COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to come to India, as the Central Government is ready to provide manufacturing assistance, financial support, and partnership in running and designing clinical trials," sources added.
India is currently facing the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic with the number of new cases increasing each day.