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India signs deal with domestic vaccine maker Biological-E for 300 million doses

India signs deal with domestic vaccine maker Biological-E for 300 million doses

FILE PHOTO: 3D-printed small toy figurines, a syringe and vial labelled "coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine" are seen in front of India flag in this illustration taken May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

BENGALURU: India's government said on Thursday (Jun 3) it has inked a deal with domestic vaccine maker Biological-E for 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for 15 billion rupees (US$205.62 million), the first such order for unapproved shots.

The vaccine, which is currently undergoing phase-3 clinical trials, is likely to be available in the next few months, the health ministry said in a statement.

READ: Exhaustion and fear for India's frontline doctors in COVID-19 battle

Biological E, which also has a separate deal to produce about 600 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 shot annually, said on Tuesday it entered into a licensing agreement with Providence Therapeutics Holdings to manufacture the Canadian company's mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in India.

Biological-E will run a clinical trial of Providence's vaccine in India and seek emergency use approval.

India, the world's second-most populous country has suffered a disastrous second wave of infections that is only now abating. 

READ: Hunger stalks India's poor in COVID-19 pandemic double blow

Health experts India needs to carry out mass vaccination of its 1.3 billion people to reduce the impact of subsequent waves.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has drawn criticism for a slow vaccine rollout even though India is one of the world's biggest manufacturers of doses.

Earlier in May, Biological-E Managing Director Mahima Datla had told Reuters that the company plans to produce 75 million to 80 million doses a month from August. 

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Source: Reuters

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