Union Ministry of Health has finalised arrangements with Hyderabad based vaccine manufacturer Biological-E to reserve 30 crore of COVID-19 vaccine doses. These vaccine doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by Biological-E from August-December 2021. For this purpose, the Union Ministry of Health would be making an advance payment of Rs 1500 crore to Biological-E. This will be the second made-in-India vaccine to be used in the country after Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
The COVID-19 vaccine of Biological-E is currently undergoing Phase-3 clinical trial after showing promising results in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. The vaccine being developed by Biological-E is an RBD protein sub-unit vaccine and is likely to be available in the next few months.
The proposal of Biological-E was examined and recommended for approval after due diligence by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).
The arrangement with Biological-E is part of the wider endeavour of the Government of India to encourage indigenous vaccine manufacturers by providing them support in Research & Development (R&D) and also financial support.
Biological-E COVID vaccine has been supported by the Government of India from its preclinical stage to Phase-3 studies. Department of Biotechnology has not only provided financial assistance in terms of grant-in-aid of over Rs 100 cr but has also partnered with Biological-E to conduct all animal challenge and assay studies through its Research Institute Translational Health Science Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad.
This has been undertaken as part of Government of India’s ‘Mission COVID Suraksha- the Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission’ which was launched to reinforce and accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development efforts as part of the third stimulus package, Atmanirbhar 3.0.
The Mission aims at bringing a safe, efficacious, affordable and accessible COVID-19 Vaccine. The Mission is supporting the development of 5-6 COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Some of these are now closer to licensure and introduction into the public health systems. It has not just accelerated COVID-19 Vaccine development efforts but has also fostered a robust end-to-end vaccine development ecosystem in the country that will be available for other ongoing and future research and developmental activities in preventive healhcare.
Besides Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, Russia’s Sputnik V will soon be used to vaccinate people.