Serum Institute of India is looking to bring in its Covid-19 vaccine used in the United States and Europe against the Omicron-subvariant XBB.1, which is similar to the JN.1 subvariant, the vaccine-maker said. “We are currently offering a XBB1 variant vaccine, which is very similar to the JN1 variant, in the US and Europe. In the coming months, we are aiming to obtain licensure for this vaccine in India. We plan to submit the necessary documentation to the regulators, with the goal of making it available to the public,” an SII spokesperson told businessline.

The JN.1 sub-variant has recently been detected in India, and is reported to be behind the increase in Covid-19 cases. “As winter approaches, we anticipate a slight increase in JN1 Covid cases. It’s essential not to panic; instead, we recommend that the elderly take precautions, including wearing masks,” the spokesperson said, even as looks to bring in the variant-specific vaccine.

SII has a tie-up with American biotechnology firm Novavax and last year it broke new ground, when it received regulatory approval to ship vaccines to the US. In India, the vaccine is branded as Covovax.

Vaccine stocks

Closer home, the Centre has not advised booster shots but has told States that ”updated” Covid-19 vaccines were expected to increase protection against the JN.1 variant, as they would for other variants. However, hospitals and vaccine makers have indicated that existing inventory has been exhausted or destroyed. As JN.1 driven cases surge, industry insiders said, they would start fresh production if the government wanted to procure fresh stocks.

Only Hyderabad’s Biological E said it had adequate stocks of its Covid-19 vaccine, Corbevax. “The stock is ready and can be shipped at short notice as per the requirement, if any,’‘ a company source said. The company had earlier said, it could supply approximately 10 crore doses of Corbevax, per month.

Union Health Ministry data for Wednesday showed zero new vaccinations. On Thursday, the CoWin dashboard showed only 85 centres (including 44 public health facilities) providing vaccinations. And 99 vaccinations had been administered, up to 8.30 pm. Doctors have indicated that immunity from existing vaccines/Covid-19 infection, was seen to protect from the severe disease.