‘5 decades of vaccine excellence is paying off’

V Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on March 06, 2021

Suchitra Ella, Joint Managing Director of Bharat Biotech

Bharat Bio’s Suchitra Ella says India will play a key role supplying Covid vaccines to the world


The near-five decades of vaccine manufacturing capability and excellence is paying off with Hyderabad set to play a significant role in the global supply chain of Covid-19 antidotes, said Suchitra Ella, Joint Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, which makes Covaxin.

Speaking at a CII conference on ‘Industry Reset: Summit on strategic manufacturing in digital era’, the Bharat Biotech co-founder said, “What started as an initiative driven by government institutions 4-5 decades ago, with significant participation of Indian research institutions for basic vaccines has now grown to become a big industry with India accounting for 60-65 per cent of global supplies of vaccines and Hyderabad accounting for about 70 per cent of India’s vaccine manufacturing capability.”

“Even for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, in India there are six major companies that are engaged in manufacture. India will, therefore, play a significant role and probably account for around the same volumes of other vaccines,” she said.

Fast development

“Bharat Biotech is the only Indian company that has to its credit developing more than half a dozen molecules. The development of the Covid vaccine in association with the ICMR in such a short time is significant given the challenges of conducting a three-phase trial process during the lockdown and monitoring the volunteers,” she said.

Recalling Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella’s efforts to get isolated strains of the virus from the ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Sunchitra said the company’s top scientists had to drive to Pune to get the strains. “Scientists worked on them 24x7 in tough conditions. That’s how Covaxin was developed,” she added. Then came the process of securing various permissions from the Drug Controller General of India. The Phase-III Covaxin trials involved 26,000 volunteers, 25 medical institutions and over 400 doctors monitoring the developments, she said.

Dr Reddy’s EUA

Satish Reddy, Chairman of Dr Reddy’s Laboratory, recalled the long association of his company with Russia, since 1992. “When Gemaleya Institute was looking for a partner, we became a natural ally and agreed to work with them towards offering the Covid vaccine,” he said. “The whole of European Union and several other countries are anxiously looking at vaccine supplies. In India, too, we have applied for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) of the Sputnik V vaccine and hope to get the approvals in the next couple of weeks. India will then have access to three vaccines,” he said.



Published on March 06, 2021

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