COVID-19

India became the second-largest Covid vaccine maker

India has now became the world’s second largest Covid vaccines maker. The analyst exclaimed that country has the capability to produce for both its own population and for developing countries. Moreover, the world’s vaccine have historically came from India. Before the emergence of Covid-19, the South Asian country produces almost 60% of the world’s vaccines at relatively low costs.

In the last month, JPMorgan analysts mentioned “India has been a manufacturing hub for vaccines … even before the pandemic, and should therefore be a strategic partner in the global inoculation against COVID-19.”In this year, in the terms of coronavirus vaccine production, consulting firm Deloitte predicts that India will be second in the U.S. However, PS Easwaran who is partner at Deloitte India, exclaimed that almost more than 3.5 billion Covid vaccines are made in the country in 2021 when it is compared with around 4 billion in the U.S.

Undoubtedly, companies in India are now scaling up the production for meeting the demand. Indian firm Bharat Biotech which developed a covid vaccine together with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research mentioned that “We are expanding our annualized capacities to deliver 700 million doses of our intramuscular COVAXIN.” 

Currently, Covaxine has now been approved for emergency use in India. It has been mired in controversy because of the criticism which lacks of transparency in its approval. Also, it hasn’t published enough efficacy data.

Indian vaccines are suitable for development world

Well, another vaccines Covishield in India and co-developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford which has been granted emergency approval in India. Moreover, it has been produced locally by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

As per the Reuters, SII made almost 50 million doses out of Covishield every month. Additionally, they planned to enhance the production by March to 100 million doses. On the other hand, the Indian companies have now agreed to develop vaccines for developers such as the Russia Direct Investment Fund and U.S. firm Johnson & Johnson. Clearly, these vaccine candidates are approved for utilization yet.

As per the JPMorgan report, “Even without successful vaccine development from their own pipelines, available capacity provides opportunity to partner as contract manufacturers with approved vaccine developers to meet supply needs particularly for India and other [emerging markets].” 

K Srinath Reddy, the president of the Public Health Foundation of India mentioned that India’s vaccines which will likely to be more suitable for developing countries.

Further, with some of the leading vaccines right now like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, makes use of messenger RNA technology (mRNA) that utilizes genetic materials for triggering the body’s own infection-fighting process.

Reddy mentioned, these vaccines needs “stringent cold chain requirements” which will be difficult or even “out of the realm of possibility” for most health health systems. He also added, vaccines are made in India are easier to transport and cheaper, putting the country in a better position than the U.S. and Europe while meeting the demands in the developing world.

“Proven Record” of India

Undoubtedly, India is capable of huge production and gave the analysts confidence that the country was providing vaccines to other nations. Now, Reuters mentioned that New Delhi has pledged to send vaccines to its neighboring countries.  It has almost supplied 15.6 million doses to 17 countries.

Nissy Solomon, a senior research associate at Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), said “India’s manufacturing capabilities are sufficient to meet domestic demand,”

“With a proven track record on the scale at which vaccines are produced, India should be able ramp up production to meet international demand as well,” she told the new reporters.

Even Solomon added that the country tracks domestic needs before making decisions on export. Well,  Bharat Biotech, for its parts, mentioned it is “fully prepared to meet the needs of India and global public health.”

Challenges faced during distributing and storing vaccines

Further, there will be lots of challenges as the country seeks for meeting the vaccines demand in India and beyond. Jefferies equity analyst, Abhishek Sharma mentioned in a note that the rollout of vaccines in India which has been slow. However, under the assumption, the speed of the vaccination has enhanced. Sharma believed that only 22% of India’s 1.38 billion population can be vaccinated in each year.

By July or August, there will be roughly the number of people India wants to inoculate.

CPPR’s Solomon exclaimed, “The supply of vaccines is not as much a problem as that of storage, distribution and vaccine uptake.”

“India lacks the capacity to store and distribute to the masses at a scale as big as this,” she believed, adding that the country must “strategically” choose vaccines that do not have to be stored at extreme temperatures.

Currently, the vaccines that is manufactured by India needs normal refrigeration. Those vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech requires to keep in extremely cold temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the vaccine produced by Moderna is stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Reddy from the Public Health Foundation of India mentioned, the “real challenge” is in the sheer number of people who need to be vaccinated.

He also told the reporter, “This is the first time that an adult immunization program is being undertaken at such an unprecedented scale.”

Additionally, he exclaimed that immunization programs focused on vaccinating children and mothers, and logistics network which might not be prepared for handling vaccines for the whole populations.

Reddy recommended that the existing cold chain for the food products which can be used for vaccines. He was hopeful that this issues can be resolved.

He said, “I would say that [these challenges are] more like speed breakers which will slow down the … program, rather than actual roadblocks which require the program to stop.”

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