NEW DELHI: In an effort to ramp up the speed of vaccination in the country, the Union Health Ministry has approved another laboratory for testing and lot release of COVID-19 vaccines, it said on Monday.

The ministry has notified the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB) as a Central Drug Laboratory (CDL) for testing and lot release of Covid vaccines, according to an official statement.

In order to discuss the various aspects of COVID-19 vaccination distribution in India, a meeting was organised under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary on November 11, 2020.

In the meeting, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Science and Technology (DST), and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) were asked to indicate to the Health Ministry if any of their labs could be converted for use as a CDL.

After due deliberations, the DBT proposed two laboratories, namely the NIAB and the National Centre for Cell Sciences (NCCS), Pune, for this purpose.

Funds from the Prime Minister Cares Fund Trust (PM-CARES) were allotted for upgradation of these two laboratories, the statement said.

“The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) had furnished a draft notification to the Union Health Ministry for notifying NIAB, Hyderabad as a CDL laboratory in response to which the Union Health Ministry has now notified NIAB, Hyderabad as a CDL laboratory,” it added.

The NCCS, Pune was notified as a CDL on June 28, 2021 by the Health Ministry, the statement said.

The notification of these two laboratories as CDLs will improve vaccine production and ultimately strengthen the vaccination campaign, it stated.