Bharat Biotech may begin the paediatric trials of its Covaxin, India’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccine, from June and is expected to get its license in the third quarter of this year, the firm’s business development and international advocacy head Dr Raches Ella said on Sunday.
During a virtual seminar with the members of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) in Hyderabad, Dr Ella said that at this point, Bharat Biotech’s primary focus will be in ramping up the company’s manufacturing capacity.
“We focused on developing the product last year. Now our focus is on ramping up our manufacturing capacity. Vaccine trials of Bharath Biotech for children may get the license in the third quarter of this year,” he said.
Bharat Biotech is aiming at ramping up the manufacturing capacity of Covaxin to 700 million doses by the end of this year, he added.
“We are happy to have the full support of the government because of which we are able to stand where we are today in this journey. The vaccine is co-developed by us and ICMR. The government placed an advanced purchase order of ₹1,500 crore. This will help us to increase our risk appetite. That is why we are expanding to Bangalore and Gujarat,” he said.
Besides, the business head said that Bharat Biotech is looking to get the approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Covaxin by the end of the third or fourth quarter.
Acquiring the approval of WHO is a crucial step as it has great impact on international travel. As Covaxin is not included in WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL), those who are fully vaccinated with both the doses of Covaxin may not be allowed take an international flight.
eanwhile, he also dismissed myths about vaccination for pregnant women. “Right now pregnant and lactating mothers, special population, and kids are not allowed to be given vaccines. Once separate clinical trials are done on these groups and proved effective, they will be allowed to take a jab,” he said.
Urging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated at the earliest, Dr Ella said, “If the majority of the population are inoculated, the virus does not spread and that is when we will achieve herd immunity.”
“Right now, we are allowed to sell vaccines to the Union government, the state governments and private hospitals in the ratio of 70:20:10. If any corporates plan to inoculate their staff, they may collaborate with private hospitals,” he added.
On Saturday, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul had said seropositivity rate between 10-17 years is roughly the same as between 30-40 and children can also spread the infection.
“Whenever children contracted the infection then almost always symptoms are minimal, very mild disease or they are asymptomatic and because it is mild the mortality is very very less in them,” he said.