‘India will have enough vaccines by March to share with the world’

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on June 17, 2021

We will have enough quantity within 6 weeks for local population: Dr NK Arora

India will have ample Covid-19 vaccines by March next year, said Dr NK Arora, expressing confidence that there will be enough supplies to share with other countries.

There are at least six different technology platforms for vaccines being used in the country, Arora, Chairman of India’s Covid-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), told BusinessLine, pointing to the plasmid DNA vaccine from Gujarat-based Zydus Cadila, for instance, that will be a first of sorts.

SII pauses exports

Indian vaccine-maker Serum Institute had paused its vaccine exports to the World Health Organisation-supported Covax facility because of an increase in domestic requirement as cases surged in the second wave.

While Dr Arora did not comment on when the country would be able to begin exporting vaccines to keep contractual obligations, he was confident that within six weeks India will have enough vaccines for the local population, and by the first quarter of next year, to supply to the rest of the world.

Arora had recently stirred the pot on vaccine pricing, saying Hyderabad-based Biological E’s vaccine can be supplied at ₹250 for two doses. Explaining the rationale, he said it is a recombinant protein-based technology that is seen in the Novavax vaccine as well.

And similar vaccines, the Hepatitis B vaccine, for instance, are priced at less than ₹100, he said. He was also confident that the Biological E vaccine would be available by September-October.

The comments come even as vaccine-makers are said to be in discussions with the Centre for a revision of the price at which they are procured by the Centre.

At present, both Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute’s vaccines are procured at ₹150, and industry-insiders say they are seeking a price of at ₹250 a dose.

Dr Arora, however, said he was not privy to the price negotiations with vaccine makers. But the pricing he gave was based on existing vaccines that use a similar technology.

Published on June 17, 2021

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