HYDERABAD: Bharat Biotech may begin paediatric trials of its Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin from June, said the company’s Business Development and International Advocacy Head Dr Raches Ella on Sunday.
Holding a virtual conversation with members of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) Hyderabad on “All About Vaccines, he said that the company expected approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Covaxin by the end of the third or fourth quarter.
“I am happy that our hard work is paying off well as the vaccine is working well and saving lives. We have this good feeling when we go back home from work each day. We will be soon ramping up our manufacturing capacity to 700 million doses by the end of this year,” informed Dr. Raches Ella as a response to a question from a participant.
“We are happy to have the full support of the government because of which we are able to stand where we are today in this journey. The vaccine is co-developed by us and ICMR. The Government placed an advanced purchase order of Rs 1,500 crores. This will help us to increase our risk appetite. That is why we are expanding to Bangalore and Gujarat,” informed the young executive of Bharath Biotech.
Dr Ella exuded confidence that vaccines for kids may get the license in the third quarter of this year. “We focused on developing the product last year. Now our focus is on ramping up our manufacturing capacity. Kids vaccine trials of Bharath Biotech may get the license in the third quarter of this year,” said Dr Ella.
Ella also said Bharat Biotech will be ramping up the manufacturing capacity of Covaxin to 700 million doses by the end of this year.
Welcoming the gathering Uma Chigurupati, chairperson of FLO Hyderabad described the Covid-19 as a global health crisis. India is the worst hit and we surpassed Brazil. And many of us have many concerns and vaccines seem to be the only hope. Let’s find answers to our doubts and dilemmas, she said.
Interacting with Dr. Pragnya Chigurupati, Consultant–Breast Oncology and Oncoplastic Surgeon who moderated the talk, Dr Raches said if you inject the purest form of water into anybody it is likely to generate few reactions. It is the biological nature of the body. If it doesn’t then there is a problem with your body. Whenever any foreign body enters our body a good body should react. The same is the case with vaccines. That is why we have side effects. He dispelled various myths about vaccine hesitancy. And he said Covid vaccines are safe and everyone should take vaccines.
When asked why we still get Corona even after taking the first dose, he replied that the first dose gives you partial efficacy. That is because your immune system takes time to develop. It is a biological process and the system needs some time. The severity of the Covid effect will be a lot less after the second dose, Dr Raches explained. Right now pregnant and lactating mothers, special population, and kids are not allowed to be given vaccines. Once separate clinical trials are done on these groups and proved effective those groups may be allowed to take a jab, he said.
Women in menstruation and conceiving are most welcome to take jabs. Dr Raches ridiculed half-knowledge and misinformation spreading on WhatsApp. Please cut down your time on WhatsApp as it is spreading a lot of misleading information and trust only such information that comes out from a trusted source, he said. Speaking about contraindication, he said it is doctors’ call whether or not to suggest inoculation to HIV and immunocompromised people. Though the vaccine is safe, the doctors are the ultimate authority to decide on it, he said.
Speaking about herd immunity Dr Raches said, “If the majority of the population are inoculated the virus does not spread and that is when we will achieve herd immunity. When asked about cross-matching of different vaccines he said as of now no mix and match. The studies are on. If proved well, then we can take a call in the future.”
Speaking on distribution he said right now we are allowed to sell vaccines to the Union Government, The State Governments, and Private Hospitals in the ratio of 70:20 and 10. If any corporates plan to inoculate their staff, they may collaborate with private hospitals, explained Dr. Raches. About WHO approval he said we have initiated the process and may get its approval soon. A few of our products in the past got their approval. We expect approval for Covaxin by the end of Q (quarter)3 or Q 4.