The Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals (KSDP) is looking at the possibility of producing COVID-19 vaccine at its manufacturing facility in the State.
However, manufacturing can start only after clearing quite a few hurdles, including clearances from the Centre, arriving at an agreement with vaccine companies for sharing of their formulae, and making the necessary upgrade to the infrastructure at the KSDP’s facility.
“The government had explored the possibility of manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine here. We told them that it can be done with necessary upgrades such as conversion of the vial line. We also need to get permissions from the Centre and also the know-how and the raw material from the companies. A consultant also might be required for the purpose,” S. Shyamala, Managing Director, KSDP, told The Hindu.
The proposed plan is to get the vaccine concentrate in bulk, fill it in vials at the injection plant, and distribute it at the vaccination centres.
The KSDP has an injection plant meeting Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, in which upgrades have to be done on the vial line. A non-beta-lactam injection plant was commissioned at the KSDP at a cost of ₹50 crore last year. The plant can produce 300 ampoules and 160 vials in a minute.
For manufacturing vaccine vials, the facility needs to have de-freezers and a cold room to preserve the vaccine concentrate at the necessary temperature. This can be set up within a period of three months at a cost of ₹10 crore.
But everything depends on the clearances from the Centre and whether the vaccine manufacturers will agree to share their patented formulae with the public sector unit. Having a vaccine vial producing facility in the State can address the vaccine scarcity issues in the state.
The KSDP’s market interventions are important in making available medicines at affordable rates. It had also made available hand sanitisers at nominal rates soon after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, pushing down the market cost.