The Parel-based Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited which has been assured grants of Rs 65 crore from the Centre and Rs 150 crore from the state, will take at least a year to roll out the first batches of Covid-19 vaccine. This comes after the Centre had given it an expected timeline of six months.
In the Parel campus, a new biosafety level-3 facility will be erected to manufacture the vaccine. Dr Sandeep Rathod, managing director of Haffkine biopharma, told the Times of India on Friday that the plant will have a capacity to produce 22.8 crore doses annually. “From now on, we will take at least one year to start manufacturing, but we will try to expedite,” he said.
Reportedly, it could take six months in constructing the facility, followed by validation steps and multiple checks to assure the quality of vaccine produced. The institute will be opting for a prefabricated laboratory likely to come up in a plot next to polio manufacturing plant in the sprawling campus.
The company’s veterans who have seen the illustrious institute battling to survive, are now hopeful that the Covid vaccine will bring it back into competition.
A technical team would be put together to facilitate the tech transfer that would be overseen by the department of biotechnology, Rathod said. However, what share of doses would be given to the state and the number of doses to be delivered nationally all details are yet to be worked out, he added.
“Currently, the approval is not for a fill-finish option since there is no vaccine in bulk that needs to be filled and finished. We have been given permission for the long-term plan, that is, manufacturing the vaccine,” he told TOI.
On Thursday, Following a request from Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Centre gave approval to state-owned Haffkine to produce Covaxin through technology transfer from Bharat Biotech.