'Covaxin 200% safe compared to other Covid vaccines'

Covaxin 200% safe compared to other coronavirus vaccines: Bharat Biotech CMD Krishna Ella

Bharat Biotech setting up four new units, including one in Bengaluru, to ramp up production to 700 mn doses

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo.

Covaxin is 200 per cent safe in comparison to other Covid-19 vaccines in the world, Bharat Biotech CMD Krishna Ella said on Monday, while asking for a few more days to announce the efficacy of the homegrown vaccine against Covid-19.

Ella said that the Hyderabad based company has an inventory of 20 million doses of Covaxin and the production would be ramped up to 700 million doses per annum soon “with four facilities coming up, three in Hyderabad and one in Bengaluru.”

Ella however did not reveal the cost of a Covaxin dose, saying that the price depends on the volumes. “In the beginning, it would be higher.”

On Sunday, the central drug controller approved Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for restricted use. However, approval for the ICMR-NIV co-developed Covaxin, which is still under Phase-3 trials, has come under criticism from the opposition and a section of experts for lack of transparency and verified efficacy.

On Monday, addressing a press conference, Ella sought to dispel the doubts.

Ella expressed anguish that he is subjected to brickbats, when his company’s work on vaccines, and adherence to strict test protocols is better than some globally-recognised pharma brands.

“We have not done anything wrong and we would not put anyone at risk. We are far better than others but sadly we do not get the recognition deserved. Why are MP Shashi Tharoor and others not questioning the UK firms,” Ella said in response to the Congress leader's tweet putting the Covaxin approval as “ethically dubious.”

“Covaxin has shown less than 10 per cent adverse reactions, while some companies were giving 4g paracetamol to their volunteers to suppress adverse reaction. I can assure that Covaxin is 200 per cent safe, compared to other vaccines in the world,” Ella said during the virtual interaction, in response to a DH question.

On Sunday, Drug Controller General of India VG Somani had claimed that the two vaccines approved for Indian use are 110 per cent safe.

Ella said that the permission for Covaxin was based on immunogenicity data. “The tests on hamsters and monkeys displayed 100 per cent protection offering the best animal challenging data compared to other vaccines,” Ella said.

Ella also reacted sharply to reported comments of Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla comparing vaccines other than of Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca, with potable water.

“We have the safety data of about 25,000 volunteers, compared to the 1,000 figure of the other company,” Ella said.

Covaxin's product development and clinical trial data has generated five publications. Phase II trial data is under peer review. “People saying I am not transparent should show patience, go on the internet and read about our work,” Ella quipped.