The Serum Institute of India (SII) has informed the Centre that it will be able to supply about 20 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it manufactures, Covishield, in September. This will be to the Government of India as well as private hospitals, it was reported.
According to the report by PTI, the Pune-based vaccine maker has supplied 12 core doses of Covishield in August. Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs, SII, informed the Union Health Ministry that the company has improved its production capacity and will be able to supply around 20 crore doses in September itself.
Citing sources, the report stated that in a production plan presented to the Centre in May this year, it was communicated by SII's director that the production of Covishield—developed by Oxford University-Astrazeneca—will be increased to 10 crores each in the months of August and September.
The company has been working towards ramping up its production over the past few months. In a previous communication in the month of May, Singh informed Union Home Minister Amit Shah, that the world's largest vaccine manufacturer would increase its production to 10 crore doses in June.
"We are committed to enhancing the production capacity of our Covishield vaccine and have been working round-the-clock in spite of various challenges being faced by us because of Covid-19 pandemic," said Singh, according to PTI.
No Change In Dose Interval: Government
As of now, five COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use in India— Bharath Biotech's Covaxin, Covishield, Russian-made Sputnik V, and Moderna (from the US), and Zydus Cadila's ZyCoV-D which is the only DNA vaccine in the world to be approved for use against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The duration between the doses of all the five vaccines is varied.
At the beginning of India's vaccination drive against COVID-19, the gap between the first and second doses of Covishield was set at four to six weeks. It was later increased to four to eight weeks, and finally to 12-16 weeks (or 84 days). There have been speculations that the extension of the dose duration was based on the availability of the vaccine.
Programmatic data collection processes are on to assess vaccine effectiveness. NTAGI reviewing vaccine effectiveness data on regular basis. Currently, there's no proposal for change in dose interval for COVISHIELD, COVAXIN & SPUTNIK V under consideration: NTAGI Chief Dr NK Arora pic.twitter.com/yc6Ylq9mv3— ANI (@ANI) August 26, 2021
Recently, the Kerala High Court sought an explanation from the Centre whether the dose gap of 84 days for Covishiled was based on the availability of the vaccine. However, the centre responded to the court on Thursday and stated that the duration was set for better efficacy on the basis of the technical opinion recommended by the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS). Live Law reported that the Centre has been asked to file a statement by Tuesday on the matter.
According to a tweet by ANI on Thursday, the government has clarified that it has no current plans of changing existing dose intervals. "Programmatic data collection processes are on to assess vaccine effectiveness. NTAGI reviewing vaccine effectiveness data on regular basis. Currently, there's no proposal for change in dose interval for COVISHIELD, COVAXIN & SPUTNIK V under consideration," said Dr. NK Arora, Chief of National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NTAGI), according to the post.