Bharat Biotech, the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker of COVAXIN, announced that it will wait and assess the demand before resuming the production of the indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine. The move comes as India sees a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in various parts of the country.
“Covaxin is available for supplies based on demand,” Bharat Biotech stated. The company had earlier stopped the production of Covaxin in early 2022, citing declining offtake for the product, and the number of viral infection cases.
Moreover, the company revealed that around 50 million doses of Covaxin had to be destroyed over the past few months “due to non-procurement, at a great loss for the company”. Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech’s competitor, Serum Institute of India, has already resumed the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield.
Bharat Biotech clarified that it is waiting for the demand to surge before resuming COVAXIN’S production. “We have more than 200 million doses of Covaxin in bulk form,” the company added.
According to the government of India, a staggering 220.66 crore doses, including second doses and booster doses, have been administered in the country as part of the national vaccination drive. The number of daily vaccinations has recently hovered around a few hundred.
Bharat Biotech to develop antigen bank of 10 Million iNCOVACC
Although Covishield and Covaxin were widely used earlier due to their early mover advantage against the pandemic, thereafter the first intranasal vaccine, iNCOVACC, developed by Bharat Biotech was also introduced. “There have been several requests for large-scale supplies of iNCOVACC. We will develop an antigen bank of 10 million doses as a stockpile. Capacity for iNCOVACC is very large and can be scaled up as required,” the company said.
The spotlight has turned on vaccine availability in the country, with states urging the Centre to ramp up the supplies. At a recent meeting convened by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to discuss COVID-19 cases and preparedness in the states, Telangana Health Minister T. Harish Rao appealed to the Centre to make adequate stocks of the vaccine available. Rao pointed out that the vaccination program had come to a standstill in the state after the Centre stopped supplies.
As the vaccination drive in India faces a lull, the country needs to ramp up its supplies and accelerate the vaccination program to ensure its citizens’ safety.