Prime Minister to visit Covaxin manufacturing facility today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to visit the vaccine manufacturing facility of Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) which is engaged in the manufacturing of vaccine for COVID-19, during a brief visit to Hyderabad on November 28.

Doing away with the regular protocol, the Prime Minister’s Office is learnt to have asked the government to ensure that only a section of officials are allowed to receive Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he arrives at the Hakimpet airforce station on Saturday.

Accordingly, Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and his Cabinet colleagues would not receive the Prime Minister as per the protocol.

Instead, the Air Officer Commanding of the Airforce Station, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, Director General of Police M. Mahender Reddy, Hyderabad Collector Swetha Mohanty and Cyberabad Commissioner V.C. Sajjanar are likely to receive Mr. Modi on his arrival.

The development had however led to a sense of disappointment in the government as the Chief Minister was reportedly geared up to receive Mr. Modi. The PMO’s instructions were so strict that Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy too was asked not to visit the airport.

BJP sources told The Hindu that as the poll code was in force only officials were allowed to receive the dignitary.

Bharat Biotech is developing COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine candidate had commenced recently and is set to involve 26,000 volunteers across 22 sites in the country.

The Hyderabad-based vaccine maker company said it is the first phase III efficacy study and the largest such for a COVID-19 vaccine in the country. The SARS-CoV-2 strain, for the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine candidate, was isolated in ICMR- National Institute of Virology, Pune, and transferred to Bharat Biotech.

The vaccine is being developed and manufactured at Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) bio-containment facility in Genome Valley in Hyderabad. The vaccine candidate was evaluated on around 1,000 people in Phase I and Phase II clinical trials. Bharat Biotech had last month received the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approval to undertake the Phase III trial.

The Phase III volunteers will receive two intramuscular injections approximately 28 days apart. They will be randomly assigned to receive Covaxin or placebo. The trial is double blinded, such that the investigators, the participants and the company will not be aware of who is assigned to which group. Bharat Biotech is also working on a single dose nasal drop vaccine for COVID-19, said Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella.

A number of other Hyderabad-based firms are engaged in different roles in the development of vaccines for COVID-19. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories will be undertaking clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine, while over 100 million doses a year of the product are to be produced in the country by Hetero Biopharma.

Pharmaceuticals and biologics company Biological E. (BE) has entered into an agreement each on vaccine candidates with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, which is a part of Johnson & Johnson, and Baylor College of Medicine.

In the case of latter, it had recently announced the initiation of Phase I/II clinical trial of the COVID-19 subunit vaccine candidate. A vaccine capital of the world, Hyderabad contributed to one-third of global vaccine output.

Indian Immunologicals (IIL) and Aurobindo Pharma are other entities from the city that have announced research and proposed development of vaccines for COVID-19.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 6:23:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/prime-minister-to-visit-covaxin-manufacturing-facility-today/article33196943.ece

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