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Amid shortage, Karnataka govt mulls producing Covid vaccine at Bengaluru institute

The Karnataka government has recently sought information on the equipment and manufacturing capabilities of the Bengaluru-based Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB).

Covishield interval, Covishield, NTAGI chief NK ARora on Covishield gap, Covid-19 vaccine, India news, Indian expressExplaining the reason behind the extension, Paul had said at a press conference that it was a science-based decision taken on the recommendations of the NTAGI. (Express photo/File)

Amid a severe shortage of Covid-19 vaccine in the state and the suspension of the vaccine drive to the 18-44 year age group, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa-led Karnataka government is now mulling the possibility to start Covid-19 vaccine manufactured at a government-run facility in Bengaluru.

The Karnataka government has recently sought information on the equipment and manufacturing capabilities of the Bengaluru-based Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB).

The institute, located in Hebbal in North Bengaluru, currently produces 5 to 6 lakh doses of vaccines per year for Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) or Monkey fever and vaccines for five other animal-related diseases.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, IAHVB Director S M Byregowda said, “The state government had asked for information regarding the manufacturing and production facilities in the institute for Covid-19 vaccine. The institute facility has to be upgraded to manufacture vaccines like Covishield and Sputnik vaccines. Some infrastructure modification should be done before starting production of this Covid-19 vaccine.”

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“To produce these two vaccines we need more information on manufacturing methodology and equipment used to manufacture these two vaccines,” he added.

According to Byregowda, if the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines is done at IAHVB, an estimated 20 to 30 crores of doses can be produced each year in this facility.

“We have already produced cell-cultured vaccines in our facility, since Covishield and Sputnik are adenovirus-based vaccines, we need to know specific equipment to covid vaccine production and add those to our facility,” he explained.

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Speaking about the patent rights from the manufacturer of vaccines like Covishield and Sputnik, Byregowda said it’s difficult to get permission from them to manufacture their vaccine here, but at least they can use our facility by upgrading it and producing the vaccine here deploying their own team as there is a shortage of vaccine manufacturing facilities.

Meanwhile, the institute cannot produce Covaxin manufactured by Bharat Biotech since it requires negative pressure labs with Biosafety Level III, which the IAHVB is not equipped with.

Byregowda said, “Bharat Biotech already has a plant Biovet which was set up to produce vaccines for animals in Malur in Kolar district in Karnataka now they are expanding that plant to produce Covaxin.”

First published on: 13-05-2021 at 20:07 IST
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