Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A research scientist works inside a laboratory of India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, which is working on vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pune.(REUTERS)



Bharat Biotech, which is developing the vaccine for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in India, on Monday approached the government for emergency-use authorisation. The company filed its application with the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) earlier as its candidate “Covaxin” is still in the phase-3 trials.

It is planning to deliver its vaccine candidate by the second quarter of 2021.

The Hyderabad-based biotechnology company is the third firm after Serum Institute of India (SII) and American pharma giant Pfizer to apply for emergency-use approval in India.

On Sunday, Pune based the Serum Institute of India which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, applied to the DCGI for emergency use authorisation for the Oxford/Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine. “’COVISHIELD’ will save countless lives, and I thank the Government of India and Sri @narendramodi ji for their invaluable support,” Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of SII, had said in a tweet.

The SII currently has two dedicated facilities with the capacity of manufacturing about 50-60 million doses a month that will be scaled up to 100 million doses by February when two more facilities are likely to be added. It is aiming to make the vaccine available for the general public use by the March-April of 2021.

Among the leading candidates to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, Pfizer was the first company to seek emergency use authorisation in India. On Sunday, the Indian arm of the US pharmaceutical giant sent an application to DCGI after its parent company secured such clearance in the UK and Bahrain.

The company’s vaccine candidate claims to offer up to 95% protection against Covid-19 and is safe for roll-out. However, concerns still remain as the vaccine requires an extreme low temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius for storage which is a big challenge for its delivery in a country like India, especially in its smaller towns and rural areas where maintaining such cold chain facilities would be very difficult.

(With agency inputs)