INDIA. Mumbai: With enhanced production of COVID-19 vaccines and the need to expedite testing and their pre-release certification, the Department of Biotechnology, Union Ministry of Science & Technology has set up two vaccine testing facilities in Pune and Hyderabad.
The Pune facility has been set up at Department of Biotechnology(DBT)- National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) and the Hyderabad facility has been set up at the DBT, National Institute of Animal Biotechnology,(NIAB) Hyderabad. These labs will be considered as a Central Drug Laboratory (CDL), for batch testing and quality control of vaccines. The funding support has been provided by the PM-CARES Funds trust.
The facility at NCCS, Pune, has already been notified as CDL for testing and lot release of COVID-19 vaccines vide Gazette notification issued by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on June 28, 2021. The facility at NIAB, Hyderabad is likely to receive a necessary notification soon.
At present, the nation has a CDL at Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh), which is the National Control Laboratory for testing and pre-release certification of Immunobiologicals (vaccines and antisera) meant for human use in India.
DBT-NCCS and DBT-NIAB have been the pillars for many aspects of infectious disease-related work in India and have contributed to the advancement of cutting-edge research output in frontier areas of Biotechnology relevant to human health and disease.
With support from PM CARES Fund trust, in a very short period, both the institutions through relentless efforts have set up state-of-the-art modern facilities for this purpose. The facilities are expected to test approx 60 batches of vaccines per month. The facilities are geared up to test existing COVID-19 vaccines and other newer COVID-19 vaccines as per the demand of the country. This will not only expedite the vaccine manufacture and supply but also be logistically convenient considering that both Pune and Hyderabad are the two vaccine manufacturing hubs.
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy on Saturday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sanctioning funds for setting the lab in Hyderabad. “A big step forward towards comprehensive development of pharma sector in Hyderabad, which will also boost production of COVID-9 vaccines,” he said.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Biotechnology has been at the forefront contributing to various COVID-19 related activities including Vaccine Development, Diagnostics and testing, bio-banking, and genomic surveillance, in addition to fundamental research and also building a strong ecosystem for translational research.
In the meanwhile the cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has exceeded 35 crore. As the new phase of universalization of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on June 21, more than 57.36 lakh vaccine doses were given in the country on Saturday.