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Centre Looking Into Ramping Up Vaccine Production, Says Scientific Advisor

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Centre Looking Into Ramping Up Vaccine Production, Says Scientific Advisor

I don’t see that any resource being limited to expanding manufacturing: Dr K VijayRaghavan

New Delhi:

The government is in contact with the Serum Institute of India and other pharmaceutical companies to look at ways that they can ramp up production of anti-Covid vaccines at a time when several states have said that they are running out of stocks of Covishield and Covaxin, the two vaccines cleared for use in India.  

Asked whether the government would financially assist the Serum Institute of India to ramp up manufacturing capability to the tune of Rs. 3000 crore, Dr K VijayRaghavan told NDTV: ”All the options are there… There are investors in India and abroad. There are Indian banks. There are government programmes. There are government R&D programmes… All of this will add up to ensuring that manufacturing goes [on].  I don’t see that as any resource being limited to expanding manufacturing.”

Last week, Adar Poonawalla, chief of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), had told NDTV that the present manufacture of the Covishield vaccine, of the two anti-Covid vaccines rolled out in India was ”very stressed” and that he needed Rs 3,000 crore in investment to ramp up production.  

“We’re supplying in India at approximately Rs 150-160. The average price is around $20 (Rs 1,500)… (but) because of the Modi government’s request, we are providing at subsidised rates… It is not that we’re not making profits… but we are not making super profits, which is key to re-investing,” he said.

“This (the amount needed) would be roughly Rs 3,000 crores. The process takes 85 days, so it would be just under three months before we scale up operations,” he said, adding that he had written to the centre on this subject, failing which SII would approach the banks for a loan.

India has administered a landmark 10 crore vaccine doses since the drive began on January 16. But with several mutant strains surfacing and the daily surge touching the 1.5 lakh mark, the demand is outstripping supply.

Several states — including Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi and Rajasthan – have said their stocks and dwindling fast and asked the centre for supplies.

Besides, with newer strains likely exacting a heavier toll on people below the age of 30, there is also a demand to allow people of all age groups access to the vaccine. The government has made it clear that it is a tough task in the current situation.

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