HYDERABAD: As international vaccine companies and academic institutions race the clock to deliver a safe Covid-19 vaccine, all eyes are on India that makes 60% of the world’s vaccines. And within India, if there is one destination that all of them are making a beeline for it is Hyderabad. The city has the capacity to churn out well over a third of the global vaccine supply.
Be it India’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine candidate Covaxin or Russia’s Sputnik V, Johnson & Johnson’s Ad26.Cov2.S, FluGen’s CoroFlu or even Sanofi’s under development vaccine candidates, all have a Hyderabad connect.
Whether a successful Covid-19 vaccine is developed in Hyderabad or not, a vaccine developed anywhere in the world will be churned out of Hyderabad, says Dr Varaprasad Reddy, founder & chairman, Shantha Biotechnics Ltd.
“All Hyderabad vaccine companies are robust in manufacturing technology and have the capacity to manufacture millions of doses with good standards,” says Reddy, who is awaiting Sanofi’s own vaccine candidate in the first half of 2021, a chunk of which is expected to be manufactured in Hyderabad. Sanofi had acquired Shantha Biotechnics in 2009.
Hyderabad will be an integral part of the Covid-19 solution just by the dint of the sheer vaccine manufacturing capacity it houses, feels Mahima Datla, managing director, Biological E Limited, which has a tieup with Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, to develop its own vaccine candidate and a tech collaboration to manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine here.
‘Hyderabad well poised to offer an affordable solution’
Datla, who is also president of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN), points out that most of the Covid-19 vaccine candidates are being developed by academic laboratories or non-vaccine companies, who don’t have the requisite infrastructure and will have no choice but to partner with companies in India or China.
In fact, most of Hyderabad’s vaccine manufacturers are in informal discussions for a manufacturing collaboration so that whenever a successful candidate is developed they can offer their manufacturing capabilities.
For instance, Indian Immunologicals Ltd, a human and animal vaccines maker that was set up by NDDB, has a new 20 million single dose (200 million multi-dose) fill finish capacity coming up at Genome Valley on Hyderabad outskirts that it is ready to deploy for third-party Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing. The company is learnt to be in talks with Russians for making Sputnik V.
“Our new facility will be ready by October-November. As our own vaccine candidate under development with Griffith University of Australia will take about 18 months, we are willing to make Covid-19 vaccines for others,” says K Anand Kumar, managing director, IIL. Datla points out that as no one knows whose vaccine candidate will be successful or by when, most manufacturers are open to offering their capacities to a successful candidate.
Even Aurobindo Pharma has jumped onto the Covid-19 vaccine development bandwagon with the acquisition of a US-based R&D company earlier this year and hopes to have vaccine manufacturing capacities ready by March 2021.
IIL deputy MD Prasanna Deshpande feels that as affordability will be the key in battling Covid-19 given its global spread, no one is better poised to offer this than Hyderabad given its scale of operations. The Telangana government too is gung-ho about Hyderabad’s role in the Covid-19 battle given. “Being the vaccine capital of the world, we are fully committed to playing an enabling role in global vaccination efforts against Covid-19 and proactively support our companies to quickly ramp up production to serve the world,” said Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary, industries & ITE&C, Telangana.