Biovet Pvt Ltd, an associate firm of Bharat Biotech, is confident of making a plant at Manjari in Pune "fully functional" for vaccine production by August- end, a senior administrative official has said. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech is the manufacturer of Covaxin, one of the two vaccines being used in the nationwide COVID-19 inoculation drive.
Pune divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao and district collector Rajesh Deshmukh visited the plant on Wednesday. "The plant has a ready infrastructure. Another strength of the company is that it is very competent and has a dedicated team....I do not think there is any need to create any infrastructure to start production. Everything is in place," Rao told PTI on Thursday.
Biovet officials, however, are still assessing the infrastructure available at the plant, he said. "Since vaccine manufacturing is a very sophisticated and sensitive subject and the process is absolutely scientific, they can not take any chance. "So they are assessing the entire manufacturing line and other machinery," the commissioner added.
Biovet officials have promised that within a week, they would be able to complete assessment of the facility, he said. "With the kind of encouragement and support the firm is getting from the Centre and the Maharashtra government about licencing, permissions, regulatory decisions, etc, they are confident of making the plant fully functional by the end of August and roll out the first batch of the vaccine," Rao said.
The Bombay High Court recently permitted Biovet to take possession of a ready-to-use vaccine manufacturing plant, built on a 12-hectare plot at Manjari in Pune, to produce Covaxin. The HC gave the nod while hearing an application filed by Karnataka-based Biovet, seeking direction to the Maharashtra government to hand over possession of the unit. The HC had said that considering the COVID-19 situation, the authorities concerned should hand over the facility to Biovet.
The plant was earlier used by Intervet India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Merck & Co, a US-based multinational pharma company, after land was granted to it in 1973 to manufacture vaccine for foot and mouth disease. Intervet is exiting business operations in India and entered into an agreement with Biovet to transfer the land and manufacturing unit to the latter.