Indian pharma major Wockhardt is set to announce a major production deal for an undisclosed vaccine. The formal announcement is due in two weeks and the production of the vaccine will begin in October, Dr Habil Khorakiwala, the Chairman of Wockhardt, told NDTV in an exclusive interview today.
The company, he said, will be able to manufacture 500 million doses a year.
Asked if the vaccine will be available in market by December, Mr Khorakiwala said, “Our arrangement is as contract manufacturer with the principal innovator… we will be supplying it to them and they will introduce it to India”.
On whether the vaccine will be competitively priced, Mr Khorakiwala said, we have only a price agreement between us and them but what price they will put depends on them.
The deal comes amid a huge vaccine shortage across the country at a crucial time. Experts have repeatedly underscored that the only way to escape a third wave of the virus is to ramp up vaccination.
The country has so far vaccinated over 3 per cent of the population and needs around 2.5 billion vaccine doses.
There is also an urgent need to consider the vaccination of children, who many say, will be the prime target of the virus in the third wave.
So far, several nations, including US and Canada have started vaccinating children.
The Centre — caught completely unprepared by the second wave of the virus — has set itself a steep target of one crore vaccinations by August. It has also assured that by December, it will vaccinate the entire nation, but it is unclear from where they will source so many vaccine doses.
Currently the three vaccines available are Serum Institute’s Covishield, indigenously developed Covaxin from Bharat Biotech and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
The government has booked 30 crore doses of a new Covid vaccine from Hyderabad-based Biological-E, which is still in Phase 3 clinical trial. The vaccine has done well in the first two phases, the government has said.
This will be the second indigenous vaccine to be used in the country after Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
The Health Ministry will make an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to the company.
The government is also in talks with Pfizer and Moderna, vaccine manufacturers from abroad who have who have insisted on an indemnity clause.
“We are also part of discussions with major vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and Moderna about sourcing and possible local manufacturing of their vaccines in India. We have also helped to expedite the introduction of the Sputnik-V vaccine,” foreign secretary Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has told reporters.