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Union minister for chemicals and fertilizers D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Sunday urged Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer Biological E Ltd to fast track the availability of their covid-19 vaccine to cater to the increasing need in the country.

The minister visited the facilities of Biological E, which has received government support to the tune of 100 crore under Mission Covid Suraksha for the development of an indigenous protein sub-unit covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine is undergoing phase 3 clinical trials after animal challenge and assay studies were conducted by the company through the department of biotechnology’s autonomous institute, Translational Health Science Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad.

Biological E’s Corbevax vaccine is expected to be available in the next few months and the Union ministry of health and family welfare has finalized arrangements to reserve 30 crore doses, which will be manufactured and stockpiled by Biological-E from August-December 2021. The ministry has paid an advance of 1,500 crore to the vaccine manufacturer.

Covid Suraksha was announced by the Centre under Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 Mission to accelerate the development and production of indigenous covid-19 vaccines. This is being spearheaded by DBT and implemented by its Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

Gowda also visited Covaxin manufacturer Bharat Biotech Ltd to oversee the vaccine’s production. The company has set a target of producing 6-7 crore doses per month in July and August and nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021.

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and other public sector vaccine manufacturers are being upgraded with infrastructure and technology required for the production of Covaxin.

“Financial support is being provided as grant from central government to the tune of approximately 65 crore to Bharat Biotech’s new Bengaluru facility, being re-purposed to increase the capacity of vaccine production. The PSUs being supported by the department for augmentation of covid production are Indian Immununologicals, Hyderabad, Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai, and Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Limited, Bulandshahr," the government said.

Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad has also received support under Covid Suraksha to develop a single dose SARS-CoV-2 intranasal vaccine. “The support is being given for the entire pipeline of vaccine production from phase 1 clinical trials to licensure. This vaccine could be a game changer being a single dose vaccine subject to efficacy and safety," the government said.

India’s cumulative vaccination coverage exceeded 32 crore on Sunday. The country reported more than 50,040 new covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours with 1,253 deaths. The total tally of covid-19 cases in India has crossed 3 crore and the total number of deaths are nearing 4 lakh.

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