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SII Gets Nod To Send COVID Vaccines To Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bulk To Astrazeneca; Bharat Biotech To Iran

SII has enhanced the manufacturing capacity of Covishield to more than 20 crore doses per month and has informed the Centre that it will be able to supply around 22 crore doses in October

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The government has permitted the Serum Institute of India (SII) to export 10 lakh Covishield doses each to Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh, while Bharat Biotech will provide Iran with 10 lakh doses of Covaxin under the 'Vaccine Maitri' programme in October, official sources said on Thursday. The Pune-based pharma company SII has also been allowed to supply bulk Covishield vaccine, which is equivalent to around 3 crore doses, to AstraZeneca in the UK, they told PTI. 

According to the sources, Prakash Kumar Singh, director (government and regulatory affairs) at SII had sought permission from Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in August to supply bulk concentrated solution of Covishield to AstraZeneca citing contractual obligation with the UK-based firm. Mandaviya on September 20 announced that India will resume export of surplus COVID-19 vaccines in the fourth quarter of 2021 under the 'Vaccine Maitri' programme and to meet its commitment to the COVAX global pool.

"While 10 lakh doses of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin would be sent to Iran, Serum Institute of India will export 10 lakh doses of Covishield each to Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh under the 'Vaccine Maitri' programme in October," an official source told PTI. "Further, Serum Institute has been given permission to supply bulk Covishield, equivalent to around 3 crore doses, to AstraZeneca this month," the source said.

SII has enhanced the manufacturing capacity of Covishield to more than 20 crore doses per month and has informed the Centre that it will be able to supply around 22 crore doses in October. Also, Bharat Biotech is currently producing nearly 3 crore doses of Covaxin every month and its production is likely to be ramped up to 5 crores in the coming months.

In a recent communication to the Centre, SII had also assured that by December 31, it will complete supply of 66 crore doses of Covishield against the recent order and will touch supplies of more than 130 crore doses in the year 2021.

According to the official source, Singh while seeking permission for supply of bulk Covishield vaccine to AstraZeneca in August had stated that according to the firm's contractual obligation with AstraZeneca, it is legally bound to supply bulk/fill finish vaccine to AstraZeneca as per their demand from time to time. "We believe in the ideology of 'nation first' and because of this, fulfilling the vaccine requirement of our country has been our top most priority during COVID-19 pandemic. We believe in the clarion call of 'vocal for local' given by our prime minister and we are continuously working on this to make our country Atmanirbhar Bharat," the source quoted Singh as having communicated.

"In view of the above genuine reasons, we request for your kind consideration for approval to supply bulk concentrated solution to AstraZeneca as they urgently need this supply," Singh is learnt to have communicated, assuring this will in no way hamper the domestic supplies of Covishield vaccine to India. The COVID-19 vaccine Covishied has been developed by SII in collaboration with Oxford University and AstraZeneca under technology transfer.

Covaxin has been indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

(PTI)