Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 6, Wednesday, seeking his intervention in handing over the assets of the Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) in Chengalpattu to the state government on lease to help mass produce COVID-19 vaccines. The letter pointed out that the facility has been lying idle for want of funds.
In his letter dated May 26, Stalin said that it is necessary to increase domestic production of COVID-19 vaccine to fight against novel coronavirus. â€śYou are aware that a modern and high capacity vaccine manufacturing facility, the Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) in Chengalpet, near Chennai, established by HLL Bio-Tech Limited (HBL) under Ministry of Health, is lying unutilised. Government of India has already invested around Rs 700 crores in this manufacturing facility, which is almost complete but has been lying unutilised for want of additional funds,â€ť he wrote. He also pointed out that a recent tender by HLL Bio-Tech Limited (HBL) to find a private company partner to run the facility and produce vaccines has not borne fruit since nobody came forward to bid for the tender.
Adding that using IVC to produce COVID-19 vaccines will enhance Indiaâ€™s production capacity and cater to the country and the stateâ€™s vaccination needs, Stalin proposed that the assets of IVC be handed over to the government of Tamil Nadu on lease with full operational freedom. â€śThe State Government will identify a suitable private partner immediately and will make all efforts to commence vaccine production at the earliest. A suitable financial arrangement for the Central Government to recover a part of its investment can be subsequently worked out, after the commencement of operations,â€ť he added.
Speaking to TNM, Chennai-North MP Kalanidhi Veerasamy said, â€śTo be precise, around Rs 350 crore is needed to get the facility up and running. In view of this pandemic, I feel this amount of Rs 350 crore is very meagre. When you take into consideration the budget allocation of Rs 25,000 crore for vaccines in the country's budget, the Union government can easily afford Rs 350 crore.â€ť He further added that by utilising Rs 350 crore, vaccines could be produced and available in four months' time. And in the first six months, two crore vaccines per month and then eight crore vaccines per month could be produced according to him.
The IVC thatâ€™s the focal point of this letter is a Rs 904-crore research and manufacturing complex for vaccines in the country. The campus, spread over 100 acres, was launched in 2012. Though launched and constructed with ambitious goals to mass-produce vaccines for various infections including Hepatitis-B and helping the country in its Universal Immunisation Programme, the facility is yet to produce a single dose of a vaccine since its construction.