India’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities have come under the spotlight recently, as India partners with several major vaccine companies to manufacture high-quality vaccines for COVID-19 at scale. India is home to Pune-based Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by the number of doses produced and sold globally (1.5 bn doses+). Notably, Serum Institute has partnered with AstraZeneca for the supply of 1bn doses of the vaccine to the Indian government but also to a large number of low and middle-income countries, playing a key role in the global supply chain.
The company has also partnered with American firm Novavax, for the development and commercialization of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, and Serum has agreed to make 1 bn doses, out of the targeted 2 bn. Bharat Biotech is also underway with Phase 3 trials of India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, which has been developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - National Institute of Virology (NIV). Both Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s vaccines have been given emergency use authorization in the country, but India has 7 other vaccine candidates, reflecting India’s strength in this area. 30+ countries have approached India for the COVID-19 vaccine, as word has spread that Indian vaccines exhibit fewer side effects.
India’s vaccine manufacturing strength exists beyond COVID-19. India is the largest supplier of various vaccines including DPT, Measles, and BCG, supplying approximately 60% of their global demand. This production capacity is often used to support vaccine supply in South Asian countries. In December alone, India, upon Maldives' request, has urgently dispatched a supply of 2400 vials of BCG vaccine to bridge a shortfall in the National Immunization Programme of the Maldives. India benefits from a large WHO GMP compliant manufacturing facilities, the most US FDA approved facilities outside the US.
Today’s healthcare budget mirrors this strength, as the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, proposed an outlay of INR 2,23,846 crore for health and well-being for 2021-22, compared to INR 94,452 crore in the current fiscal, showing a drastic 137% increase. Moreover, INR 35,000 crores have been provided for Covid-19 vaccine development in 2021-22, with further funds to be committed if required. The Pneumococcal Vaccine, a Made in India product, has been announced to be rolled out across the country, averting more than 50,000 child deaths annually.
As India demonstrates its vaccine manufacturing ability to the world, the sector is ripe with opportunity and expects continued growth.
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