India's federal government has finalised arrangements with Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer, Biological-E, to reserve 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, officials said Thursday.
"Union (federal) ministry of health has finalised arrangements with Hyderabad based vaccine manufacturer Biological-E to reserve 30 crore (300 million) of COVID-19 vaccine doses. These vaccine doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by M/s Biological-E from August-December 2021. For this purpose, the union ministry of health would be making an advance payment of INR1500 crore (over 205 million U.S. dollars) to M/s Biological-E," an official statement said.
The vaccine being developed by Biological-E is a RBD protein sub-unit vaccine and is likely to be available in the next few months.
The COVID-19 vaccine of Biological-E is currently undergoing Phase-3 clinical trial after showing promising results in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials.
"The proposal of M/s Biological-E was examined and recommended for approval after due diligence by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC)," the ministry said.
"The arrangement with M/s Biological-E is part of the wider endeavour of government of India to encourage indigenous vaccine manufacturers by providing them support in Research &Development (R&D) and also financial support."
The ministry said Biological-E COVID vaccine candidate has been supported by the government of India from preclinical stage to Phase-3 studies.
"Department of Biotechnology has not only provided financial assistance in terms of grant-in-aid of over INR 100 crore (13.68 million U.S. dollars) but has also partnered with Biological-E to conduct all animal challenge and assay studies through its Research Institute Translational Health Science Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad," the ministry said.
The aid is a part of the Indian government's "Mission COVID Suraksha (protection) - the Indian COVID-19 vaccine development mission" that aims to bring a safe, efficacious, affordable, and accessible COVID-19 vaccine.
The mission is currently supporting the development of five to six COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and some of these are now close to license and introduction in public health systems.
The Indian government recently said it will vaccinate the eligible population by December this year.