2nd vaccine

India’s Central government has booked 300 million doses of another Made-in-India vaccine to be manufactured by Hyderabad-based Biological-E's Covid vaccine. (photo via IANS)

NEW DELHI — In another landmark move in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, the Central government has booked 300 million doses of another Made-in-India vaccine to be manufactured by Hyderabad-based Biological-E's Covid vaccine, which is still in final phase of clinical trials.

Biological-E's vaccine is currently in Phase-3 clinical trials after showing promising results in Phase 1 and 2, and it is likely to be available in the market in next few months, said a Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) statement.

The Ministry is learnt to have made an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to the firm, the second made-in-India vaccine manufacturer after Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.

"The doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by Biological-E from August to December and is likely to be available in the next few months," the Ministry said.

The move is expected to be a sigh of relief for the Centre facing wide criticism amid shortage of Covid vaccine during the second wave of the pandemic.

Biological-E's shot, the Ministry said, was given Rs 100 crore in financial assistance by the Department of Biotechnology, which also partnered with the company to conduct various studies.

This is part of the government's mission to support five or six new COVID-19 vaccine candidates, said the statement.

Biological-E's indigenous vaccine was recommended for approval by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 or National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19.

Biological-E also has a separate deal to produce about 600 million doses of Johnson and Johnson's Covid-19 shot annually. The company said June 3 it entered into a licensing agreement with Providence Therapeutics Holdings to manufacture mRNA Covid-19 vaccines in India.

Besides Covaxin and Serum Institute of India's Covishield, Russia's Sputnik V will soon be used to vaccinate people as the government races towards a target of one crore vaccinations a day by August. It is also in talks with foreign makers like Pfizer and Moderna, who have insisted on an indemnity clause.

The new vaccine arrangement is "part of the wider endeavor of the government to encourage indigenous vaccine manufacturers" by providing them support in research and development and costs, the Center said.

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