5 vaccines given nod, will it solve the supply crunch?

Five Covid-19 vaccines given nod, but will it solve the supply crunch?

Monthly vaccine production capacity of Covishield and Covaxin is also being ramped up

Representative image. Credit: iStock

With five vaccines given the emergency use approval in India, the government is now aiming at ramping up supplies to meet its target of vaccinating maximum citizens by December-end.

The vaccination drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, advance visibility of vaccine availability to States and UTs for enabling better planning by them and streamlining the vaccine supply chain. As of August 9, more than 52.40 crore vaccine doses were provided to states/UTs, while  50,86,64,759 persons have so far been inoculated with at least one dose, according to MoHFW data at 8 am.

While Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine has been given the nod, it is unclear as to when and how many doses will be available for inoculation. The government expects the company to begin supplying doses around September once the agreement on the number is reached, however, India can expect an initial supply of around 3-5 crore doses a month, an official told The Times of India.

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Despite the approval of Moderna's vaccine in June, not a single dose has yet arrived in the country due to wrangling inemnity sought by the company. It is also unclear if J&J reached an agreement with the government over legal concerns pertaining to indemnity. Pfizer has yet to seek permission for use of its vaccine in India.

The monthly vaccine production capacity of Covishield and Covaxin is also being ramped up. The monthly production of Covishield will be increased from 11 crore doses to more than 12 crore doses per month, while the monthly vaccine production capacity of Covaxin is planned to be increased from 2.5 crore doses to around 5.8 crore, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in the Parliament.

Meanwhile, Panacea Biotec on Thursday said it entered into a pact to produce up to 25 million doses of Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine using the drug substance manufactured by pharma firm Generium in Russia.

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 As per the terms of this agreement, Panacea Biotec shall produce the Sputnik V vaccine using the ready-to-fill drug substance manufactured by Generium in Russia, and then supply the entire quantity to Dr Reddy's for distribution in India, it added.

"The agreement is for manufacture (fill and finish) of up to 25 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine," Panacea Biotec added.

The government has previously said it has placed orders for a supply of 100.6 crore doses up to December 2021. “Between August to December 2021, 135 crore doses are expected to be available,” the government said. However, with the actual numbers of some of these approved vaccines unknown, it is yet to be determined how many doses will precisely be made available for use and when.