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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  India eyes to increase oral polio vaccine supply

India eyes to increase oral polio vaccine supply

Recently Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have announced collaboration for enhanced production of OPV.

Apurva Chander, Union health and family welfare secretary. Premium
Apurva Chander, Union health and family welfare secretary.

New Delhi: The Centre is looking to increase the manufacturing capacity of oral polio vaccine (OPV), said Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary Apurva Chander. Chander is currently touring Netherlands where he visited the pharmaceutical Bilthoven Biologicals, acquired by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India that manufactures OPV and discussed its production. 

Recently Serum and Bharat Biotech announced a collaboration for enhanced production of OPV. Bharat Biotech will collaborate with Netherlands-based Bilthoven Biologicals B.V, a wholly-owned arm of Serum Institute of India. 

The bioengineering and vaccine production firm Bilthoven Biologicals was purchased by Serum India Ltd in 2012. 

Also read: Serum Institute to receive up to $30 mn from global network to make pandemic vaccines 

"An agreement has been signed under which Bharat Biotech will procure drug substances for manufacturing oral polio vaccines to be supplied within India and globally. This will contribute to supply security of oral polio vaccines. With this partnership, the capacity of BBIL to manufacture Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) has increased to 500 million doses every year," said a statement by the Health Ministry.

Oral vaccines

Currently the production capacity of OPV is around 153 million doses a year. 

"It is a matter of pride for us to visit a company which is manufacturing vaccines in Netherlands. This company has the capacity to provide oral vaccines in India,; till now the raw materials for oral polio vaccine was being obtained from one company based in Indonesia. Now Indian company will be supplying oral vaccine in India," said Chander.

Also read: India's apex drug regulator seeks vaccine manufacturing and sales data from states

Chander's visit follows reports of an injectable polio vaccine shortage in the country. Last year French pharma major Sanofi said it will discontinue production of polio vaccine ShanIPV (inactivated) in India from March 2024 onwards. Earlier this month, the pharma company said that has said it obtained approval for making IMOVAX-Polio, an injectable vaccine, from the Indian authorities. 

Coming together

Earlier this month, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII) had announced coming together for polio eradication. In a joint statement, the companies said that a requisite agreement has been signed between BBIL and BBio wherein BBIL will procure drugs for the production of oral polio vaccines to be supplied within India and globally. 

Through this collaboration, BBIL and BBio will jointly obtain the regulatory approvals and licenses required to commercially manufacture OPVs in India for global supplies from drug substances manufactured in the Netherlands at Bilthoven Biologicals. Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) of the Union Health Ministry is one of the key interventions for protection of children from life threatening conditions by providing vaccination, including vaccine against polio. 

India was certified free of Polio in March 2014. "However, to maintain the polio-free status, polio vaccine is given to children as part of the high quality national and sub-national polio rounds across the country. A sustained supply of OPV is essential for keeping India polio free," the ministry said in a statement.

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Published: 25 Apr 2024, 05:40 PM IST
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