The Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL), India’s apex lab, has cleared stock of 6 crore Corbevax doses, the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Hyderabad-based Biological E, News18.com has learnt.
The vaccine is currently being stockpiled by the manufacturing firm as the government is yet to decide its usage plan. The vaccine is likely to be included in the government’s drive to inoculate teenagers which is currently dependent on Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
CDL in Himachal Pradesh’s Kasauli is the government laboratory which tests the safety of all vaccines used in India. It has released a stock of over 6 crore vaccines in the last three months after checking its safety and efficacy.
Apart from Corbevax, the laboratory has also cleared 3.15 crore doses of Covovax — an American vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India — and 1.85 crore doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Biological E in India.
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India, the top panel of experts, is likely to meet on Friday to discuss and review the data for the usage of Covovax and Corbevax among children.
Both vaccines haven’t been launched in the country’s vaccination drive against Covid-19 because the majority of the Indian population is being vaccinated mainly with the first dose of Covishield or Covaxin.
A member of the panel told News18.com that the use of the new vaccines is only possible as boosters or among children. “There is no need for boosting population right now as a South African study shows Omicron infection induces much higher antibodies or immune response in human body apart from giving protection against Delta variant,” the official said.
“The members will review data and compare it to available data on Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which is currently being given to teenagers. If these two vaccines are good enough, they can be approved as India needs more vaccines for children due to limited production of Covaxin and its requirement in primary inoculation plan and precautionary doses,” the official added.
Right now, Covovax and J&J’s vaccine are being used for exports.
While Novavax-SII’s Covovax vaccine is being exported to Indonesia, the Philippines and now WHO-backed COVAX, J&J’s vaccine is also being exported as talks between the central government and the pharma company failed to reach mutual understanding.