How US export controls on raw material push India to locally develop Covid-19 vaccine ingredients
New Delhi, Apr 20: India is currently facing a critical shortage of raw materials necessary for ramping up production of COVID-19 vaccine. And the production lines, making at least 160m doses of covid vaccine a month, will soon come to a halt within a few weeks if the United States does not allow import of 37 ingredients.
However, the will not only hamper India, even the neighbouring country Bangladesh which is currently importing vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII) will also face the same consequences.
SII is currently manufacturing anti-coronavirus vaccine Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
It should be noted that the vaccine is not only being used in India but exported to a number of countries.
CEO Adar Poonawalla had earlier said that the US needs to lift its embargo on raw material exports to help ramp up vaccine production.
Tagging the Twitter handle of the President of the United States, Poonawalla said in a tweet, "Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details."
In February, the US invoked the Defence Production Act, in order to help American pharmaceutical firms procure the material they needed for vaccine production.
At a time when the country is in the middle of a second wave of COVID-19 infections, the export restrictions by US on raw materials threaten to hamper vaccine production across the world.
Why is US restricting supplies?
The Biden administration said in February that it would use the act to increase the list of items that US vaccine makers would get priority access to, such as special pumps and filtration units.
How India is scaling up vaccine production for its domestic demands?
Bharat Biotech, the lone Indian company with exclusive manufacturing rights of Covaxin, is also struggling to cater to the growing demand.
Bharat Biotech has subsequently announced that it will increase its production by seven-fold by manufacturing COVID-19 vaccine at its facilities in Malur in Karnataka and Ankleshwar in Gujarat. It is currently being produced at the company's Hyderabad facility.
On Monday, Finance ministry approved advance payment of ₹4,567.50 crore to boost the capacity of the makers of Covid-19 vaccines.
The finance ministry approved ₹3,000 crore for Pune-based SII which is manufacturing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Covishield and granted ₹1567.50 crores to Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech boosting the production of Covaxin, according to ANI.
'Aatmanirbhar vision' for raw materials
Bharat Biotechalong with Bengaluru based Biovet Private Ltd and Sapigen Biologix in Hyderabad-has recently announced that it has tied up with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) for the development of novel platform technologies using locally available chemicals at an affordable price and with highest purity.
Covaxin is formulated with Algel-IMDG, which contains chemisorbed TLR7/8 against aluminium hydroxide gel to generate the requisite type of immune responses.
IICT managed to do this in four months, helping Bharat Biotech to scale up the production of the adjuvant.