Hyderabad: The central government has pre-booked 30 crore doses of COVID vaccine manufactured by Hyderabad-based Biological-E.

This is despite the fact that the vaccine is still in the third phase of clinical trials.

Health Ministry will make an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to the company. It will be the second made-in-India vaccine to be used in the country after Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. The doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by Biological-E from August to December 2021.

The move comes after massive criticism of the Centre's vaccination policy. There was a huge shortage of vaccines in the second wave of COVID.

In April, the company got the nod from the Central Drugs and Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) to conduct phase 3 clinical trials on its COVID vaccine candidate, which has been developed in association with Baylor College of Medicine, US, and is modeled on the Hepatitis E vaccine.

Besides, the company has signed agreements with two foreign companies to manufacture their vaccines in India. Biological E announced Tuesday that it has entered into an agreement with Providence Therapeutics Holdings, a Canada-based company, to manufacture its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in India. It is also supposed to run a clinical trial of the vaccine in India. The company also has entered into a deal with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine in India.

The government said Biological-E's shot was given Rs 100 crore as financial assistance by the Department of Biotechnology, which also partnered with the company to conduct various studies.

This is part of the government's mission to support five to six new COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

The Centre had initially been reluctant to place advance orders for COVID-19 vaccines. However, it relented in April when the second COVID wave took off and approved an advance of Rs 1,700 crore for the SII, which manufactures Covishield, and Rs 700 crore for Bharat Biotech, which has developed Covaxin.

These two vaccines have been a part of India's immunization programme that was rolled out in January.


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