Vaccine production rising; India may become first country to have a DNA-based jab: Mandaviya

NEW DELHI: Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday said several Indian companies are increasing their production of COVID-19 vaccines and that the country may become the first in the world to develop a DNA-based vaccine.

Replying to a short duration discussion on COVID-19 management in Rajya Sabha, the minister said technology transfer to several companies has started and they will begin production in the coming days to reduce vaccine shortage in the country.

“Cadila has completed third phase trial of its DNA vaccine and has applied for emergency use authorisation before DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India). Our expert team is looking into it. When this will come in the market, India will be the only country where scientists have developed a DNA vaccine,” Mandaviya said in Rajya Sabha.

He said that the country has started getting 11-12 crore doses of Serum Institute’s Covishield vaccine per month and Bharat Biotech will supply 3.5 crore doses of its Covid vaccine in August. He said that the states are given vaccine availability projections 15 days in advance and that it’s their responsibility to plan the inoculation drive accordingly.

The minister said that Biological E is conducting third phase of trial of its vaccine and it is expected to come in the market by September-October with 7.5 crore doses.

“Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have started trials on children. I expect their trials to be successful. We need to trust our scientists. I trust my scientists and indigenous companies,” Mandaviya said.

On the allegation of suppressing Covid deaths, the minister said that the registration of Covid deaths is done by states and that the central government has never asked any state to record less deaths or cases.

It is not appropriate to say that the Covid third wave will hit children more, the minister stressed citing experience of the previous waves.

Mandaviya told the House that 316 oxygen plants out of the total 1,573 planned have been commissioned and the rest will start operations by August-end.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge said that the government’s COVID-19 death toll figure of 4-5 lakh is “false” and conservative and claimed the average number of deaths cannot be less than 52.4 lakh so far in the country.