HAFFKINE BIOPHARMACEUTICAL Corporation Limited will soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech for sharing technology for the manufacture of indigenous vaccine, Covaxin.
On April 28, the Maharashtra government had approved Rs 94 crore for the construction and setting up of a bio safety level 3 facility in Haffkine’s Parel premises. The facility is slated to cost between Rs 65 crore to Rs 70 crore.
Haffkine had asked the Union government to provide Rs 87 crore for the facility, of which Rs 65 crore has been sanctioned. It had also asked for Rs 154 crore from the Maharashtra government to augment the facility. The state has decided to allot the money from its contingency funds.
“The MoU with Biotech will be signed in the next two days. We will issue tenders soon for construction of the new facility,” an official from Haffkine said. The company is hiring consultants and biochemists to execute the work.
Haffkine had received approval from the Union government to manufacture Covaxin on April 15. While in multiple meetings with the government, it had conveyed that it may require a year before it can start manufacturing, the Centre had requested it to get it done in six months.
Haffkine’s general manager, S V Shankarwar, said they are expediting the whole process to meet the six-month deadline. “Everything is being done on a war footing. These are not normal circumstances. We don’t have the privilege to slow down. Manufacturing will begin as early as possible,” he added.
The new facility will span over 20,000 square feet. Haffkine can manufacture 228.8 million doses annually, starting with 20 million per month in the initial phase. As per the current timeline, it can deliver the first batch of vaccines early 2022.
The Union government had announced that by August, six to seven crore Covaxin doses will be manufactured monthly in India. This is expected to increase to around 10 crore doses per month by September.