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Bharat Biotech’s plant in Karnataka to produce its first batch of Covaxin next month, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Bharat Biotech’s vaccine plant in Karnataka is expected to produce its first batch of Covaxin next month. The unit will churn out about 20 million doses to begin with, Karnataka’s health and medical education minister K Sudhakar told ET.

The Hyderabad-based vaccine and bio-therapeutics firm has repurposed its veterinary vaccine plant at Malur industrial area near Bengaluru to produce Covaxin. The Union government had announced a support of Rs 65 crore for this plant to accelerate the production of indigenous Covid-19 vaccines.

The demand for the jab has far outstripped supply, and the company last month announced it has stepped up production capacity to 700 million doses a year at multiple units.

The plant at Malur in Karnataka is the largest of the vaccine maker’s production hubs spread across Telangana and Karnataka. The company, the health minister said, is expected to gradually step up production to reach a level of 30 million doses in July and 50 million doses in August.

Sudhakar, who disapproved of any criticism of Covaxin and stood firmly by the vaccine maker early this year, had detailed discussions with Bharat Biotech founder Krishna Ella and co-founder Suchitra Ella on Monday. The state government has placed orders for 10 million doses of Covaxin.

Bharat Biotech did not respond to queries emailed by ET on its vaccine production plans in Karnataka.

If all vaccine makers put together can produce about 200 million doses a month, states can cover the entire Indian population by December, said Sudhakar.

As for Karnataka, the health minister said, the vaccine availability situation will improve in the coming weeks. With production set to begin in Malur next month, the Karnataka government, the minister said, has targeted to inoculate the state’s population by the end of September.

While Karnataka is also trying to source Sputnik, the government is making extra efforts to get more of Covaxin because of little or no logistical challenges.

“We will not have much say in how much of their (Covaxin) production should come to Karnataka. A lot of it is regulated by the Union government. But we will pursue with the company to give us more as they are operating out of our state, said Sudhakar.

Since Malur is also close to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the vaccine maker is said to have plans to cover entire south India. Many other countries too have issued emergency use authorisation for Covaxin and the capacity expansion will also help the firm with exports, once overseas shipments are opened up.

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