The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is willing to share the know-how to produce the indigenously-developed Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, with any company as the contract with co-developer Bharat Biotech is not close-ended.
Currently, Bharat Biotech has the sole licence to manufacture Covaxin, which it developed in collaboration with scientists from ICMR’s Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV).
An official involved with the developments told BusinessLine that the terms and conditions agreed upon while transferring the Covid-19 vaccine technology was that Bharat Bio will pay the ICMR 5 per cent royalty on the net sales of Covaxin.
“The contract with Bharat Biotech is not close-ended, it is open-ended in terms of sharing of technology. So, we are free to share the know-how with other companies. Currently, we are entitled to get 5 per cent royalty from Bharat Biotech on an annual basis,” the source said.
Asked if any company has approached the ICMR for the vaccine technology, the source declined to comment but reiterated that it was well within its rights to give the technology to others.
As India opened up vaccination for people in the 18-44 age group, the country is facing a serious supply shortage with the two manufacturers expressing their inability to ramp up production substantially to meet the demand.
PSUs brought in
The government has roped in a few public sector undertakings (PSUs) involved in vaccine production such as Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation (owned by the Maharashtra government), Indian Immunological Limited (owned by the National Dairy Development Board), and Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Limited (under the Department of Biotechnology) to make Covaxin.
Besides Covaxin, the other vaccine available in India is Covishield, which was developed by the Oxford University-AstraZeneca partnership. Serum Institute of India is one of the many manufacturers across the world licensed to produce Covishield and it is liable to pay a royalty to the pharma MNC.
The government procures both the vaccines at ₹150 per dose. Covishield constitutes around 90 per cent of the total vaccine supply in India, with the indigenously developed Covaxin having only 10 per cent market share.