Smaller Covaxin vials to reduce wastage

Bharat Biotech is planning smaller Covaxin vials to also better manage delivery

Leroy Leo
Updated25 Jan 2021, 07:55 AM IST
As of 7.30 am on Sunday, 1.61 million beneficiaries had received vaccines, all of them healthcare and frontline workers, in 28,613 sessions. Reuters
As of 7.30 am on Sunday, 1.61 million beneficiaries had received vaccines, all of them healthcare and frontline workers, in 28,613 sessions. Reuters

Bharat Biotech International Ltd, which supplied 20-dose vials of Covaxin in its initial shipment, will start shipping 10-dose vials in its upcoming deliveries to avoid wastage due to low uptake among healthcare workers.

Covaxin is available in 10 (dose) vials after the initial 20 (dose) vial shipment, and Bharat Biotech may also have smaller vials in later stage to manage better vial delivery options and wastage,” a spokesperson said over the phone, adding later shipments will only have 10-dose vials.

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It is common practice worldwide to use both 10-dose and 20-dose vials in public health immunization programmes, the spokesperson said.

The Hyderabad-based vaccine-maker had initially supplied only 20-dose vials when it supplied 5.5 million doses across the country. According to PTI report, the company has also received a fresh letter of comfort—or a preliminary order—for 4.5 million doses last week, which will be dispatched when the government wants it.

Both Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute of India Ltd’s Covishield had received emergency licensure from the drugs controller general of India V.G. Somani earlier this month.

While Serum Institute’s shipments of 11 million Covishield jabs comprised only 10-dose vials, Bharat Biotech supplied only 20-dose vials.

However, due to concerns around lack of efficacy data for Covaxin from Bharat Biotech’s ongoing phase 3 trial, uptake of the shots has been low among healthcare and other frontline workers. Vaccine hesitancy is also being seen for Serum Institute’s Covishield, albeit to a lower extent.

As of 7.30 am on Sunday, 1.61 million beneficiaries had received vaccines, all of them healthcare and frontline workers, in 28,613 sessions. While India’s covid-19 vaccination programme has so far been swifter than those of the US and UK, the uptake is still only 56% of the target as each session could have only about 100 people.

While Bharat Biotech plans to also offer smaller vials at a later stage, Serum Institute has no such plan for its vaccine for the government’s mass immunization programme, but may do so if there is demand when it hits the private market.

“As long as it is a part of mass immunization campaign, it will be multi-dose vials. Once we get permission to supply in private market, we will plan for single or two-dose vials provided there is adequate demand in the market,” Serum Institute executive director Suresh Jadhav said.

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First Published:25 Jan 2021, 07:55 AM IST
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