The national expert group on vaccine administration for COVID-19 met representatives of leading domestic manufactures, including Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila, on Monday to take inputs about the present stage of various candidate vaccines as well as their expectations from the government, the Union Health Ministry said.
The meeting was mutually beneficial and productive, the ministry said.
“It provided the national expert group with inputs about the present stage of various candidate vaccines being developed by indigenous manufacturers as well as their expectations from the Union government,” the statement said.
The meeting was chaired by Niti Aayog member V K Paul and co-chaired by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
The panel met separately representatives of the five firms — Serum Institute of India (Pune), Bharat Biotech (Hyderabad), Zydus Cadila (Ahmedabad), Gennova Biopharmaceuticals (Pune) and Biological E (Hyderabad).
According to sources, the panel comprising Department of Biotechnology Secretary Renu Swarup, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava and Department of Pharmaceuticals Secretary P D Vaghela met the representatives of the five pharma firms and asked them about their production capacity and whether they need any sort of assistance from the government.
This was the second meeting of the committee after August 12.
In the first meeting, it delved into the procurement mechanism for the COVID-19 vaccine, including both indigenous and international manufacturing along with guiding principles for prioritisation of population groups for vaccination.
The expert group had then held discussions on financial resources required for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine and various options of financing the same.
Available options in terms of delivery platforms, cold chain and associated infrastructure for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination were also taken up.
Further, strategy and follow-up action on all possible scenarios to ensure equitable and transparent delivery of vaccine was deliberated upon.
The phase-1 human clinical trials of the two COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and Zydus Cadila Ltd have been completed and the trials have moved to phase 2, ICMR Director General Bhargava had said at a press briefing recently.
The Serum Institute of India, which has partnered with AstraZeneca for manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford, has been permitted for conducting Phases 2 and 3 human clinical trials of the candidate in India. It is likely to start the trials soon.
Biological E Ltd has entered into an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, part of pharma major Johnson & Johnson, for the creation and enhancement of production capabilities to manufacture the latter’s COVID-19 vaccine.
In collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, USA, Gennova has developed an mRNA vaccine candidate (HGCO19), with demonstrated safety, immunogenicity, neutralisation antibody activity in rodent and non-human primate models. It is likely to go to clinical trials before the year-end.