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4 more Indian pharma firms expected to start COVID-19 vaccine production by Oct-Nov: Govt

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday said in Parliament that four more Indian pharma companies are expected to start anti-coronavirus vaccine production by October-November, which will accelerate the inoculation drive.

During the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Mandaviya said India has administered 47 crore doses of vaccine so far, and the Centre is making efforts to inoculate the entire country at the earliest.

Even 7 to 9 percent of the doses that remain unutilised by private hospitals are used by the government vaccination centres, he added.

“Vaccination drive is going on smoothly… It will get more accelerated in the coming days with the ramping up of production by four more Indian companies,” the minister said.

Biological E and Novartis vaccines will also be available in the market in the coming days, while Zydus Cadila will soon get an emergency-use nod from an expert committee, the Union Health Minister said.

At present, two companies (Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute) are supplying the vaccine to the government. Sputnik vaccine is also available, and its production has already begun, he added.

To a query by BJD member Amar Patnaik about the vaccine rollout plan for 12-18-year-old and the need for a third or fourth dose, Mandaviya said, “The government’s target is to vaccinate the entire population at the earliest and constant efforts are being made to achieve this.”

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Unlike BCG (Bacilli Calmette-Guerin) and polio vaccines that came to India much later after its launch in other parts of the world, COVID-19 vaccines were made available in India at the same time in the world due to the efforts of the Narendra Modi government, he said

Responding to BJP member Susheel Kumar Modi’s query on the government’s plan to reduce the vaccine quota to private hospitals, the minister said it was not necessary as the unused vaccine quota of the private hospitals is taken by the government.

The Centre is buying 75 percent of the vaccine produced to give free jabs to people, while 25 percent is allocated for the private sector, the health minister added.

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