Vaccine maker Bharat Biotech has started supplies of Covaxin, the COVID-19 vaccine it has developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV).
The first batch of the indigenous vaccines were dispatched by air from Hyderabad to 11 cities, across the country, in the early hours of Wednesday. This follows receipt of the government purchase order for 55 lakh doses, the company said.
A spokesperson of the company said the purchase order will be executed within a few days, but did not share details of how many doses formed part of the first batch that was shipped on Wednesday.
Of the 55 lakh doses of Covaxin, Bharat Biotech has decided to provide 16.5 lakh doses free of cost to the government. The rest is priced at Rs.295 per dose.
Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Lucknow, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Ganavaram, Guwahati, Patna and Kurukshetra are the cities to which the first batch of vaccines (each vial containing 20 doses) were shipped. While some shipments have reached the respective cities, others will be delivered later in the evening, a release from the company said.
The company expressed deepest gratitude to the country, all clinical trial volunteers and its partners for making this a “successful and milestone public-private partnership for the development of India's first COVID19- vaccine.”
Covaxin is an inactivated 2-dose SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, developed and manufactured in the company’s BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) biocontainment facility, one of its kind in the world, the release said.
Phase III clinical trials for Covaxin are underway since November and involve around 26,000 volunteers across the country. Earlier this month, the Drugs Controller General of India had given Emergency Use Authorisation for the vaccine candidate.