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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

New Delhi: Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has sent the first batch of its Covid vaccine, Covaxin, to the government for further distribution as the immunisation drive in the country is set to start in coming days, its CMD Dr Krishna Ella said on Monday.

"We have already sent the batch to the Central Research Institute in Kasauali," he said at a press conference.

However, he did not disclose the quantity of vials sent to the government. Ella also did not share information on the order specifying quantity of the doses it received from the government.

Covaxin, India's indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by Bharat Biotech, is developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - National Institute of Virology (NIV). The inactivated vaccine is developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech's BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) bio-containment facility.

The Central Research Institute (CRI), under the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), is the nodal agency to tests the drugs and facilitate in the roll out to the northern part of the country.

Ella also said that the firm has 20 million doses ready and is confident to manufacture 80 million more by July.

Meanwhile, the company is aiming to manufacture 700 million doses of Covaxin in future with four new facilities it is ramping up in south India.

"We are preparing three facilities in Hyderabad and one in Bangalore," he specified.

On the question of pricing, Ella did not reveal the exact cost of the vaccine but said that it would be competitive with others. "Initially it may cost more but as the production scales up, the price would come down with more competition in the market," he said.

Meanwhile, Ella also hailed the decision of the Indian drug regulator to approve Covaxin for emergency restricted use and termed it as a giant leap for innovation and novel product development in India.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had approved Covaxin for restricted use in emergency situations in the country on Sunday. The DCGI has also allowed Bharat Biotech to conduct its trials on children who are above the age of 12 years.

The company informed that it has already been used for children above 12 in the last round and has been found safe. The firm is currently conducting Phase 3 trials in India.

"Covaxin Works Against UK COVID Strain"

Dr Ella further stated that the vaccine is efficient against the mutant strain of novel coronavirus found in the UK while announcing that its data would be made public within a week.

"We have taken 3-4 strains and studied it. It will come in publication on Medrevix on January 10. In a week's time, our confirmative data would come," said Dr Ella.

Ella hailed the decision of the Indian drug regulator to approve Covaxin for emergency restricted use and termed it as a giant leap for innovation and novel product development in India.

Meanwhile, he lashed out at cynics who raised concerns over the transparency of approval procedures taken to authorise Covaxin, saying that the firm's Covid vaccine candidate is "no way" inferior to Pfizer in terms of transparency.

"People are talking about backlash on Indian companies. That is not done for us. We are the only Indian firm to have published five articles on the Covid-19 vaccine process," Ella claimed.

He also clarified in the conference that he and his family has no involvement with any political party. "Since the politicization over our vaccine has started, I want to clarify that neither I, nor my other family members are involved and working with any political party," Ella stated.

(With IANS Inputs)

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