Haffkine Biopharma, a state-owned company in Maharashtra, announced on June 2 that it aims to produce 22.8 crore (228 million) doses of Covaxin in a year. Under a technology transfer agreement with Bharat Biotech, Mumbai-based Haffkine will manufacture Covaxin.
Haffkine has received a grant of Rs 65 crore from the Centre and Rs 94 crore from the Maharashtra government, both of which will be used to build a BSL-3 facility for manufacturing and purchasing raw materials, CNBC-TV18 reported. “We have been given a timeline of eight months and the work is being executed on a war footing," the website quoted Dr Sandeep Rathod, Managing Director of Haffkine BioPharma.
“The vaccine production process involves two stages – drug substance and final drug product. For the production of drug substance we need to build a Bio Safety Level 3 (BSL 3) facility, while Haffkine already has the Fill Finish facility,” said Rathod, the doctor turned IAS officer, who is leading the project.
The production will take place in the company’s Mumbai Parel complex. BSL 3 is a safety standard that applies to facilities that work with microbes that might cause serious disease when inhaled. Haffkine is a branch of the 122-year-old Haffkine Institute, one of the country’s oldest biomedical research institutes, named after Russian bacteriologist Dr Waldemar Haffkine, the inventor of the plague vaccine.
Three other public sector undertakings (PSUs) — Indian Immunologicals and Bharat Immunologicals & Biologicals, Bulandshaharand and Gujarat Covid Vaccine Consortium (GCVC) — have entered into technology transfer agreements with Bharat Biotech to produce Covaxin.
By the end of the year, Bharat Biotech expects to increase Covaxin’s capacity from 10-12 million doses per month to around 700 million doses.
“Enhancing vaccine production capacity using Public sectors assets will go a long way in building production capacity of vaccines in our country to support the massive vaccination drive” said, Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary Department of Biotechnology and Chairperson BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council)