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Covaxin trials for children may begin in June: Bharat Biotech

Amid much discourse on the need for vaccination to prevent the third wave in India, Bharat Biotech's business development and international advocacy head Dr Raches Ella said on Sunday that pediatric trials of Covaxin may begin from June.

He also exuded confidence that vaccines for kids may get the license in the third quarter of this year. "We focused on developing the product last year. Now our focus is on ramping up our manufacturing capacity. Kids' vaccine trials of Bharath Biotech may get the license in the third quarter of this year," said Ella.

He was speaking virtually with members of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) Hyderabad on "All About Vaccines". Ella said that the company expects approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Covaxin by the end of the third or fourth quarter.

He also informed that Bharat Biotech is looking to ramp up its capacity to 700 million doses by the end of this year. "I am happy that our hard work is paying off well as the vaccine is working well and saving lives. We have this good feeling when we go back home from work each day," he said.

"We are happy to have the full support of the government because of which we are able to stand where we are today in this journey. The vaccine is co-developed by us and ICMR. The government has placed an advanced purchase order of ₹1,500 crores," added Ella.

According to him, the order had led to an increase in the company's risk appetite. "That is why we are expanding to Bangalore and Gujarat," he said.

Answering a question on side-effects of the vaccine among beneficiaries, Ella used an instance of injecting the purest form of water into a body.

"It is likely to generate few reactions. It is the biological nature of the body. If it does not, then there is a problem with your body. Whenever any foreign body enters our body a good body should react. The same is the case with vaccines. That is why we have side effects," he said.

When asked why people may still get infected with Covid-19 after taking the first dose, he replied that the first dose gives you partial efficacy. "That is because your immune system takes time to develop the antibodies. It is a biological process. The severity of the Covid effect will be a lot less after the second dose," he explained.

He also dispelled myths about vaccination for pregnant women. "Right now pregnant and lactating mothers, special population, and kids are not allowed to be given vaccines. Once separate clinical trials are done on these groups and proved effective, they will be allowed to take a jab," said Ella.

The Bharat Biotech official further urged everybody who is eligible to get vaccinated at the earliest. "If the majority of the population are inoculated, the virus does not spread and that is when we will achieve herd immunity," he said.

Speaking about distribution, he said: "Right now, we are allowed to sell vaccines to the Union government, the state governments and private hospitals in the ratio of 70:20:10. If any corporates plan to inoculate their staff, they may collaborate with private hospitals."


Courtesy: Mint | 24 May 2021

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