8.1L Covaxin doses to be procured from Bharat Biotech for other countries (IANS exclusive)
New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) The Union Health Ministry on Saturday asked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to consider contacting Bharat Biotech for the procurement of 8.1 lakh doses of Covaxin to be given to different countries as a goodwill gesture.
According to an office memorandum accessed by IANS, Under Secretary to the government, G.K. Pillai, alluded to the meeting held between the Secretary at the Department of Pharmaceuticals and the Foreign Secretary on Friday, wherein it emerged that the MEA would provide 8.1 lakh doses of Covaxin to different countries in the form of grant-in-aid as a goodwill gesture.
“In this regard, it is to inform that Bharat Biotech Limited is providing a total of 10 million (1 crore) doses of this vaccine to the Health Ministry for the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive in India. The price of the procured vaccine is Rs 295 per dose plus GST,” the office memorandum stated.
It added, “The MEA may, accordingly, consider contacting Bharat Biotech for the procurement of the aforesaid 8.1 lakh doses of this vaccine, which may provide the said quantum at the above-mentioned price,” it added.
The Under Secretary said that keeping in view the programmatic priorities of the ongoing vaccination drive in India, the quantum of doses should be procured by the Ministry of External Affairs from Bharat Biotech only after January 22.
Besides, on January 12, Bharat Biotech had announced that it has signed an agreement with Precisa Medicamentos for supplying Covaxin doses to Brazil.
Covaxin is a highly purified and inactivated two-dose vaccine. The vaccine, along with Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, was administered to over 1.91 lakh people across the country on Saturday.
Covaxin, India’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, is being made in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology (NIV). It is presented in multi-dose vials and can be stored at a temperature of 2-8-degree Celsius.
The Phase III human trials of Covaxin began in mid-November and is currently ongoing in 26,000 volunteers across India. It has been evaluated in approximately 1,000 subjects in Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, with promising safety and immunogenicity results.
It, however, has courted controversy since it received the approval from the drug regulator earlier this month. The approval given without adequate efficacy data drew flak from public health advocacy groups, researchers, scientists and activists.
(Aakanksha Khajuria can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)