Drugmaker Wockhardt is in discussion with global vaccine companies to make their Covid-19 vaccine candidates for India and emerging markets, said Habil Khorakiwala, its Founder Chairman.

The company has an existing alliance with the UK government to “fill finish” vaccines, and is soon to initiate work to get about 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca-OxfordUniversity vaccine ready for the UK, he said, giving details on the visit of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to their Wrexham facility (North Wales).

The UK government has reserved one fill and finish production line at Wockhardt UK for its exclusive use for 18 months to guarantee supply of vaccines for its citizens, Khorakiwala said.

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“Fill finish” involves sourcing the bulk ingredient from another company and filling it into the injectable form of the vaccine, and this would be done at Wockhardt’s Wrexham site.

In addition to this, the UK could look at using the facility for vaccines from other companies to supply global markets, he said. The Wrexham plant had the capacity to make about 350 million doses. Currently, the deal is to “fill finish” the AZ-Oxford vaccine, that could bring in about $100 million, annually, he estimated.

Contract manufacturing

On the India front, the company was in talks with global vaccine makers as many of them were developers and did not have manufacturing capacities, he told BusinessLine . There are gaps in production, he said, adding that Wockhardt was offering its contract manufacturing facility at Aurangabad to make these vaccines.

Interestingly, companies like US-based Pfizer and Moderna have approached the US regulator for an emergency use authorisation (EUA), and a vaccine could be available for use in public in a couple of weeks. Khorakiwala though did not give a timeline on when he expected an alliance to workout. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine too has been talking about striking production alliances in India.

Wockhardt has been in discussion with the Indian government as well, he said, indicating that they had the capacity to make upto a billion doses, if required.