Mumbai: A day after the Centre granted approval to the state-run Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation for the production of Covaxin on a technology transfer basis from Bharat Biotech, the Department of Biotechnology approved its proposal to provide funds worth Rs 87 crore required for the seed bank, the construction of building and the procurement of specialised equipment. Haffkine had sent the proposal in January this year and it has been approved by a high-level committee attached to the Department of Biotechnology.
Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation MD Sandeep Rathod told The Free Press Journal, “The vaccine is a biological product and for its production, the construction of a building has been done as per the Centre’s norms, especially for maintaining a certain temperature level. Haffkine can rope in an agency for setting up a pre-fabricated structure in eight to ten months and later complete other works on a war footing. So, the production of Covaxin will not be started immediately but we hope to launch it by March 2022. Haffkine will produce 22.8 crore doses annually.” He said the vaccine could not be put to use immediately but could be administered later also, as other vaccines are being used. “The vaccine produced by Haffkine will be for long-term use and at an affordable price,” said Rathod.
Further, said Rathod, the state government had approved Haffkine’s proposal for Rs 154 crore in funds required for the construction of a production facility along with Bharat Biotech, at Parel in south-central Mumbai.
Maharashtra’s Food and Drug Administration Minister Dr Rajendra Shingane hailed the Centre’s move. Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said Haffkine had the necessary experience and expertise in vaccine production. It is engaged in the development and production of a wide range of bacterial and viral vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, plague, poliomyelitis and rabies. It also formulates pharmaceutical products, disinfectants, ointments, injectables, syrups and mixtures.