Urgently Expand Public and Private Sector Production along with related R&D to meet India’s Vaccine Requirements: AIPSN Statement endorsed by Scientists, Academics, Doctors

All India Peoples’ Science network (AIPSN)

27 May 2021

 click here to see the pdf with endorsements received till 31May 

click here to see the letters in EPW Vol. 56, Issue No. 23, 05 Jun, 2021 carrying the endorsement

Urgently Expand Public and Private Sector Production along with related R&D

to meet India’s Vaccine Requirements

 Need for New Strategies

With the present Indian population of over 130 crores, the number of vaccines required to immunise the entire population would be about 310 crore doses (3.1 billion doses)  or 218.5 crore doses for the 18+ adult population, allowing about 15% process losses. This is not an easy task.  However,  the Indian people need to know why India, a pioneer in large-scale vaccine production even before the current pandemic and a major exporter of vaccines, has to rely on just two private domestic manufacturers, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech, to produce Covid-19 vaccines, a constraint that is painfully obvious today.

India, now, has a number of public and private sector units that can make a contribution to the expansion of local production of vaccines. Presently two vaccines namely COVISHIELD of Serum Research Institute (SII), Pune and COVAXIN of Bharat Biotech (BB), Hyderabad are available for supply in India. Technology for COVAXIN is fully home grown, through collaboration between BB and the National Institute of Virology (NIV), a public sector R&D institute under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), itself an agency of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The central government is therefore entitled to make use of march-in-rights available to supporting government entities, as tacitly accepted by BB in extending technology transfer to 3 public-sector vaccine Units.

Up to the 2000s, 80% of India’s vaccines for the Universal Immunization Programme were sourced from the public sector. Today, 90% are sourced from the private sector, that too at a higher cost. Brazil, Cuba and China are using public sector companies and institutes to undertake integrated R&D and production operations to vaccinate their populations and export to developing countries to meet their requirements. In contrast, India has neglected its public sector units. India has a large number of a few decades old facilities as well as new facilities equipped with appropriate modern infrastructure. The central and state governments should be making full use of all these facilities to expand local production of COVID vaccines.  Presently India has eleven public sector units. Some are almost ready to go into production. The government has taken some initial steps in the direction of using a few selected units. Integrated Vaccine Complex at Chengalpattu, whose construction was completed as recently as 2016, needs just one hundred crores and some handholding to start the domestic production of COVID vaccines.

There are a number of private sector units which can also contribute to the domestic production of COVID vaccines, , such as Biological E.,  Hyderabad, Panacea Biotech,  Solan etc. In addition to vaccine manufacturing companies, there are also companies that manufacture biologics that have the capacity to be repurposed for manufacture of vaccines. Already, Dr. Reddy’s Lab and at least five biologics have teamed up with Russia to procure the Sputnik-V Vaccines in the country. In all, there are close to thirty units which can be involved in the production of COVID vaccines. Such expanded manufacture in India would enable meeting domestic requirements as well as international obligations to which India, in particular SII, is committed having also accepted advance payments. Procurement of already approved vaccines from abroad by private sector units is also an option.

While the private sector is itself getting ample albeit highly belated funding from the government, the public sector is still not getting requisite support. Only recently some relatively small government grants have been given for manufacture of Covaxin under license to state owned companies such as Indian Immunologicals Ltd. Hyderabad, Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Corporation Ltd, Bulandhshahar, to and Haffkine Institute, a Maharashtra state PSU as called for by its Chief Minister. SII cannot by itself transfer technologies since it is itself making Covishield under license from AstraZeneca, it can certainly be nudged to sub-contract work to other Units. Both SII and Bharat Biotech could be appropriately persuaded to handhold these other units as one way of paying back their own long-standing obligations to the public sector and the Indian state.

Specific suggestions for the government to announce a policy to urgently ramp up domestic production of vaccines and improve related R&D are as follows:

  1. The existing public sector undertakings and state owned enterprises be revived and assisted to ramp up vaccine production.
  2. The use of the Integrated Vaccine Complex at Chengalpattu be handed over to TamilNadu Government with clear provisions allowing the state governments, public sector undertakings and state owned enterprises for contractual manufacturing of Covid vaccines using the facility.
  3. Compulsory licenses or appropriate legislation be issued where required to enable interested parties for production of COVID 19 vaccines.
  4. The conventionally used march-in-rights available to the Govt of India/ICMR be used to ensure technology transfer and handholding by Bharat Biotech to PSUs, SOEs and other Units to enable them produce vaccines for domestic use.
  5. Indian companies that are planning to manufacture Sputnik V be assisted, as required, for scaling up.
  6. SII, AstraZeneca and Novavax be persuaded to expand manufacturing in India through joint ventures or other collaborations with suitable public and private sector entities both for domestic use and export especially for the Covax facility.
  7. Research on new vaccine development strategies and development of multiple vaccines be enabled and encouraged across research laboratories, public sector and private sector institutions. Genomic surveillance be increased appreciably and linked to viral efficacy and epidemiological studies, so that vaccines are constantly checked for efficacy against variants of concern enabling collaborative modification across manufacturers, as required, especially in view of emerging variants and for different demographics such as children.

We the following scientists, academicians, doctors endorse the above statement:

(endorsements received till 31 May 2021)

1         Gagandeep Kang Professor
2         Shahid Jameel Director, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University
3         T. Sundararaman Global Coordinator, Peoples Health Movement
4         Satyajit Rath Visiting Faculty, IISER Pune
5         Vineeta Bal Staff Scientist (Retired), National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi
6         T R Govindarajan Professor (Retd) IMSc
7         Tejinder Pal Singh Professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
8         LS Shashidhara Professor
9         Gautam Menon Professor,  Ashoka University
10     Madan Rao Professor, NCBS, Bangalore
11     Partha Majumder National Science Chair, Natl Inst of Biomedical Genomics
12     Sorab Dalal Academic
13     John Kurien Azim Premji University
14     Sheena Jain Former Pofessor Jamia Millia University
15     R Ramanujam Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
16     Ram Ramaswamy Visiting Professor, IIT Delhi
17     Imrana Qadeer retired Professor (Public Health)
18     G Rajasekaran Professor Emeritus
19     N. Mani Professor and Head Department of Economics Erode Arts and Science College Erode Tamil Nadu
20     D.Raghunandan Delhi Science Forum
21     Ponniah Rajamanickam Rtd. Associate Professor & AIPSN
22     B.Parthasarathy General Secretary– All India Federation of Retired University and College Teachers’ Organisations
23     Y. Srinivas Rao Associate professor
24     A.P.Balachandran Syracuse University
25     H. Shakila Professor and Head
26     TS Ganesan Professor Medical Oncology
27     Mundur V N Murthy Professor (Retd), The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
28     R Shankar Honorary Professor, IMSc
29     Usha Ramakrishnan Retired professor, ex MKU
30     Reeteka Sud NIMHANS
31     Ramesh Singh Sheoran Convenor, Gurgaon water forum
32     Surinder Kumar Professor
33     Dhruv Raina JNU
34     Kesab Bhattacharya Professor
35     Rakesh Prasad Founder BallotboxIndia.com, Director Gnovations Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
36     Thirunavukkarasu Asst.professor of microbiology
37     Surendra Ghaskadbi Biologist
38     G Velmurugan Scientist, KMCH Research Foundation, Coimbatore
39     Saumyen Guha Professor, IIT Kanpur
40     RAMAN KUMAR RANA Biochemist
41     Ramasundaram.S Associate Prof, Unit Secretary, Tamil Nadu Science Forum, Madurai
42     Chitra.N Associate Professor of Microbiology
43     V. Makeshkumar Technical Lead – Regulatory Affairs, Engineering Research and Development (R & D) Services
44     Prabir Purkayastha President, Free Software Movement
45     K K Natarajan Retired Professor
46     S. Krishnaswamy Retd Senior Professor, ex Madurai Kamaraj University
47     K V Subrahmanyam Professor, Chennai Mathematical Institute
48     R Geeta Retired from University of Delhi
49     GK Marita Professor in Physiology ,GSL Medical College Rajahmundry Andhra
50     Sadasivam, K Associate Professor
51     Sitabhra Sinha Professor, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
52     Venkatesh Raman Professor, IMSc Chennai
53     Dev Desai ANHAD
54     Soma Marla Principal scientist, Genomics division ICAR NBPGR New Delhi
55     V.RAVI Associate professor, government arts college for men, krishnagiri
56     K.Durga Principal Scientist,  Genetics, ICAR IARI, New Delhi
57     S.R. Venkateswaran Orthopedic surgeon
58     Ranbir singh dahiya President haryana gyan vigyan samiti haryana
59     Sellan M Associate professor
60     Senthamil selvan state Ec member, Tamil nadu Science Forum
61     Kanagarajan Vice-president
62     R. Vivekaanandhan Professor (rtd.)
63     D. Narasimhan Associate Professor (Retd.)
64     R. Kavitha Assistant professor & Head
65     SHANMUGAM N Assistant Professor
66     R chandran Principal
67     G.Suresh kumar Associate Professor and MUTA
68     Shanmugam Veeramani  Assistant professor
69     Ravisankar Retired professor of Buisiness Administration
70     J.Kalyana sundari Retired deputy director of agriculture
71     Rajendra Prasad Former Advisor & Head, International Scientific Affairs, CSIR, New Delhi
72     S.Saraniya Medical doctor
73     Sunita Sheel Bandewar Exe Director, Health, Ethics and Law Institute of FMES
74     Ashok Pandey Public Health Research Society Nepal
75     S.Chatterjee Scientist (Retd) , Formerly, Indian Institute of Astrophysics
76     Aurnab Ghose Academic
77     SUJOY CHAKRABORTY Senior Science Journalist. ABP Digital Media
78     Ravinder Banyal Scientist
79     Amit Kumar Mandal Assistant Professor, Raiganj University
80     Chandan K Sen Distinguished Professor & Director
81     Prabir KC Independent Health Consultant
82     R.Chandramohan RETD Principal
83     Sudha N Independent Researcher & Activist
84     Arup Kumar Chattopadhyay Professor of Economics, University of Burdwan
85     Mahalaya Chatterjee Professor, Calcutta University
86     Aniruddha Pramanik Professor, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya
87     Sedhu Bharath. S Dentist
88     Birat Raja padhan Pruthibi science club
89     Amit Misra Chief Scientist, CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute
90     S Janakarajan Professor
91     Samuel Asir Raj Professor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli
92     Hasham Shafi Senior Research Fellow, CSIR-central drug research institute
93     Rajiv Gupta Former professor of Sociology University of Rajasthan Jaipur
94     Jayashree Ramadas Professor (retired)
95     Reena Bharti CSIR-SRF
96     G C Manoharan Retired Professor
97     Venkat Nadella PostDoc Policy Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Science
98     Moumita Koley Policy post doctoral fellow
99     Ashok Jain Former CSIR NISTADS
100 Debjani Sengupta Retd. Professor
101 Ahmar Raza Retired Scientist
102 Ramesh Chander Retired Principal / District Secretary , Haryana Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Hisar , Haryana
103 S.Ramaswamy Retired Professor
104 Suresh Teaching  Assistant
105 Kamala menon Delhi science forum   Secretary
106 Archana Prasad Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
107 Asha Saxena Ahmad Eye Specialist
108 C P Geevan Independent Researcher
109 Dr K J Joseph Director GIFT
110 Rony Thomas Rajan Assistant professor
111 Mohanakumar Professor
112 S. Akshay Faculty, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
113 Sedhu bharath. S Dentist
114 Jins Varkey Assistant Professor
115 Visweswaran Retd.Banker
116 Indranil OP Jindal Global University
117 Sundarbabu Retired Professor
118 K J Joy Senior Fellow, SOPPECOM
119 PrasadA Rao Chairman SARASIJAM Technologies
120 Drraj Singhal Chief Technical officer
121 Rao Gummadi IT Security Audit
122 Biju IK Member, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishath
123 Sanat Phatak KEM hospital research centre
124 Harsha Merchant Member ISSA
125 Sulakshana Nandi Public Health Resource Network Chhattisgarh
126 Tapan Saha Retired Senior Scientist, IESEM and Treasurer, Bangiya Bijnan Parishad
127 Prabhakar Jayaprakash Doctoral Scholar
128 M. Siddhartha Muthu Vijayan Scientist
129 Navjyoti Chakraborty Research Scientist, GGS Indrprastha University
130 Amitabh Joshi Professor, JNCASR, Bengaluru
131 D.Narasimha Reddy Professor of Economics(rtd),University of Hyderabad
132 Saroj Ghaskadbi Emeritus Professor, SPPU, Pune
133 Om Damani Professor, IIT Bombay
134 Bijoya Roy Public Health Researcher
135 R Suresh Babu General Manager, QC Zydus Cadila
136 B. Sathesh Senior Manager -Viral Vaccine HLL BIOTECH LTD
137 Srikanth Sastry JNCASR
138 Bala Sathiapalan IMSc
139 Kunhi Kannan Kssp
140 jyotsna jha director, centre for budget and policy studies
141 Brahmavidhya Medical Doctor DM
142 Sharath Ananthamurthy Professor, School of Physics, University of Hyderabad
143 Aparna Basu Independent Researcher
144 Pradip Kumar Mahapatra Associate Professor, Jadavpur University & General Secretary, Paschimbanga Vigyan Mancha
145 Pramode Ranjan Nandi Professor of Veterinary Gynaecology & Obstetrics
146 Sridhar Gutam Senior Scientist, ICAR-IIHR
147 Vivek Monteiro Secretary, CITU Maharashtra
148 Sudha Rao Genotypic Technology
149 Prajval Shastri astrophysicist and AIPSN
150 Ajit M. Srivastava Professor, Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar
151 Subimal Sen Ex Professor, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata
152 R.Priyanka Researcher
153 Kunta Biswas Doctor
154 Bhabani Sankar Joardar Professor
155 Debesh Kumar Das Professor
156 Indira C Public Health Researcher
157 Tarun Kumar Mandal Ex Principal
158 Prasanna Chebbi ISRC
159 Anna George Scientist (retired)
160 Malini Aisola Public health professional
161 Parthib Basu Professor, University of Calcutta
162 Rajinder Chaudhary Former Professor, MDU, Rohtak
163 Bittu K R Associate Professor of Biology and Psychology, Ashoka University
164 Maitri Bose (Biswas) Paschimbanga Vigyan Manchà
165 Rati Rao E. Scientist Rtd
166 Soham Jagtap Researcher, NIMHANS
167 Sweta Dash Researcher
168 Pradeep Shinde  Assistant Professor, CIS&LS, JNU
169 Chandan Dasgupta Honorary Professor, Indian Institute of Science
170 Annapoorna Sharma Consultant paediatrician. FRCPCH
171 Gayatri Saberwal Professor and Dean (Academic Affairs)
172 Richa Chintan Jan Swasthya Abhiyan
173 Dinesh Abrol Professor TRCSS, JNU
174 Ashok Rao  Delhi Science Forum
175 Prabir Ghosh Academic, JNU,Delhi
176 Gauhar Mehmood Professor JMI
177 P S Rajasekharan KSSP
178 dr.geyanand ex.M.L.C, JVV
179 Anshuman Das Independent Researcher Kolkatta
180 Vandana Prasad Independent Researcher Delhi
181 Biswajit Dhar Professor CESP, JNU Delhi
182 Sambit Mallik Academic IIT, Guwahati
183 Surinder Kumar Reired Professor,Rohtak
184 Rahul Independent Researcher Bhopal
185 Pritpal Randhawa Academic JNU, Delhi
186 Ravindran KSSP
187 Dharmendra Mishra  Industrial Researcher, Gurgaon
188 Savyasachi Academic, JMI Delhi
189 Biswajit Dhar Professor CESP, JNU Delhi
190 Satish Kalra Retired Professor, Hisar
191 K. N. Chatterjee General Secretary, BGVS, Dhanbad
192 O. P. Bhuratia JS AIPSN, Shimla
193 Parminder Independent Researcher, Delhi
194 Kunal Sinha Academic, CU Gandhinagar
195 C.Vishnumohan Academic, Delhi
196 Mira Shiva Public health Researcher
197 Pravin Jha  Professor CESP, JNU
198 Avinash Associate Professor, CIS&LS, JNU
199 N Raghuram  Professor
200 N.D. Jaiprakash Delhi Science Forum
201 Gauhar Raza Retired Chief Scientist, CSIR-NISCAIR
202 Madhu Prasad Retired Professor, Delhi University
203 P V S Kumar Retired Chief Scientist, CSIR-NISCAIR
204 Tejal Kanitkar NIAS, Bengaluru
205 A N Basu Ex Vice-Chancellor, Jadavpur University
206 Siddhartha Datta Ex Pro-Vice Chancellor, Jadavpur University
207 V. Parameswaran Nair Distinguished Professor, City University of New York
208 G V Raju Principal
209 Parameswaran Ajith ICTS-TIFR
210 Naresh Dadhich Former Director and Professor Emeritus, IUCAA
211 Biswajit Chakraborty Senior Professor, S.N.Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata
212 Joseph Samuel ICTS, Blore
213 Sarin S M Associate Professor, Dept of Medicine, GMC Kannur
214 Sanjiva Prasad Professor, IIT Delhi