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Experts decode challenges in manufacturing COVID vaccines in India

Updated : May 14, 2021 23:41:58 IST

India reported 3.43 lakh fresh COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours as of May 14, adding over 3 lakh cases for the 22nd consecutive day. With this, the number of confirmed infections in the country since the onset of the pandemic has crossed the 2.4 crore-mark. However, active cases have fallen again by 5,600, as recoveries outnumbered fresh infections.

On the other hand, the daily death toll continues to remain above 4,000, while the overall tally is at 2.6 lakh in the country.

India has administered almost 18 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses so far, with 4 crore people or just over 3 percent of the population fully vaccinated with two doses. In the 18-44 year age group, less than 40 lakh people have received their first jab, with vaccine shortage slowing down the inoculation drive.

Amid the vaccine shortage and no major uptick in supplies expected anytime soon, the government has decided to extend the interval between the two doses of Covishield from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks -- the scientific study supporting this extension has been available since February.

The central government has said that August onwards it expects a sharp uptick in production and availability of COVID-19 vaccines -- with over 200 crore doses likely to be supplied between August and December -- of which, 75 crore are expected to come from Serum Institute of India (SII).

As India tries to ramp up its vaccine production, the government has decided that apart from Bharat Biotech, 4 other companies will manufacture Covaxin -- the four manufacturers roped in for Covaxin production are Indian Immunological, Haffkine Biopharma, Bibcol-DBT and Gujarat Bio Tech.

The first dose of Russia's Sputnik vaccine was administered in Hyderabad today, which was part of a soft launch by Sputnik's India partner Dr Reddy's.

The price of Sputnik V vaccine has been set at Rs 995 per dose. This is also a two-dose vaccine. Apart from Dr Reddy's, few other companies like Hetero Pharma, Gland Pharma have also signed up to manufacture the vaccine in India. Currently Sputnik is being imported and local manufactured doses will hit the market in a few months.

Managing Editor of CNBC-TV18 Shereen Bhan spoke to Nithya Balasubramanian, Director at Sanford Bernstein to discuss the challenges in India's vaccine supply.

To know more, watch the video.
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