Maharashtra: State-owned Haffkine gets nod to produce Covaxin

Haffkine has quoted capacity to manufacture 22 million doses annually, said Maharashtra health secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas.

Following a request from Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Centre has given approval to state-owned Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation to produce Covaxin through technology transfer from Bharat Biotech.

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for accepting his request, Thackeray said large-scale vaccine production can now be started in Maharashtra. Thackeray had made the demand last month at a video conference with the PM.

In a letter to Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte Thursday, Renu Swarup, secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, said that the approval has been given as per recommendations of the scientific experts committee. “The letter further said that a period of one year has been given for the production of Covaxin. In view of the current growing infection and demand for vaccines, Haffkine should start production as soon as possible. It should appoint experienced and trained technicians,” said a statement issued by the CM’s office.

Thackeray has also asked the Chief Secretary to appoint a senior officer to monitor the project regularly and complete the production on time.

Officials in Haffkine Biopharmaceutical said they can manufacture 228.8 million doses per year.

Earlier, state health minister Rajesh Tope had said if allowed to manufacture the vaccine, the state would wish to retain 25 per cent stock and share 75 per cent with the Centre.

The Haffkine production is expected to plug the vaccine shortage being faced by Maharashtra in the past few days. Maharashtra requires at least 40 lakh doses per week to vaccinate 6-7 lakh people a day. Currently, the state is immunising 2-3.5 lakh people a day. State officials said the modalities of the operation, its capacity and how much stock Maharashtra would be allowed to keep is still under discussion with the Centre.

Covaxin, manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, has been indigenously developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).Two doses of the vaccine are taken with a gap of 28 days.

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