Bharat Biotech is ramping up its manufacturing capacity to 700 million doses which is likely to be achieved by the end of this year: Dr. Raches Ella

Dr. Raches Ella, Dr. Pragnya Chigurupati, Uma Chigurupati
Dr. Raches Ella, Dr. Pragnya Chigurupati, Uma Chigurupati

Hyderabad….Few side effects of vaccination are common and that shouldn’t deter anyone from taking it said Dr. Raches Ella, Head-Business Development & International Advocacy of Bharath Biotech while on a virtual conversation with members of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) Hyderabad on “All About Vaccines”.

Welcoming the gathering Uma Chigurupati, Chairperson of FLO Hyderabad described the COVID-19 as a global health crisis. India is the worst hit and we surpassed Brazil. And many of us have many concerns and vaccine seems to be the only hope. Let’s find answers to our doubts and dilemmas, she said.

FLO also paid homage to the members including founder member Indu Jain and FLO Hyderabad member Nafisa Ali who lost their lives to the pandemic

The talk on the most topical topic, “All About Vaccines” was well attended by over 160 members. It was a very informative and enlightening session and participants heard the speaker with the utmost attention.

Interacting with Dr. Pragnya Chigurupati, Consultant–Breast Oncology & Oncoplastic Surgeon who moderated the talk, Dr. Raches said if you inject the purest form of water into anybody it is likely to generate few reactions. It is the biological nature of the body. If it doesn’t then there is a problem with your body. Whenever any foreign body enters our body a good body should react. Same is the case with vaccine. That is why we side effects. He dispelled various myths about vaccine hesitancy. And he said COVID Vaccines are safe and everyone should take vaccines.

Bharath Biotech has received permission to carry out pediatric trials of the vaccine and it may commence trails from June 1st. It will be a trial on children aged 2-18 years he said. Kids vaccine trials of Bharath Biotech may get the license in the third quarter of this year he gave his confidence.

I am happy that our hard work is paying off well as the vaccine is working well and saving lives. We have this good feeling when we go back home from work each day. We will be soon ramping up our manufacturing capacity to 700 million doses by the end of this year informed Dr. Raches Ella as a response to a question from a participant.

We are happy to have the full support of the government because of which we are able to stand where we are today in this journey. The vaccine is co-developed by us and ICMR. The Government placed an advanced purchase order of rupees 1500 crore. This will help us to increase our risk appetite. That is why we are expanding to Bangalore and Gujarat, informed the young executive of Bharath Biotech.

We focused on developing the product last year, now our focus is on ramping up our manufacturing capacity he added.

Dr. Raches answered many questions of the moderator Dr. Pragnya. She asked what the majority of Indian population likes to know.

When she asked him about challenges he said the success probability of a vaccine is just 6% from discovery to development. That is why we see fewer vaccines, he said. And we took that biggest and the calculated risk, he added

In normal circumstances, the development of a vaccine takes anywhere between 7 to 10 years, which we have done in the least possible time. This was never taught in books. This is something I learned practically. The journey was challenging, promising, and fulfilling Dr. Raches explained.

When asked about dosing intervals he said ideally the gap should be between two weeks and can go up to six weeks. If for some reason you miss that schedule you need not get panicked. You can go and take the second dose anytime possible but at the earliest possible time.

Three months after the second dose good antibody response can be developed. Talking about a booster dosage he said the current vaccines are doing good enough but that will depend on future variants of the virus if any booster dosages needs to be taken or not.

No vaccines offer 100% protection. The vaccine efficacy can be improved up to 100% protection by your COVID Appropriate Behaviour and following other safety protocols he said.

When asked why we still get Corona even after taking the first dose, he replied that the first dose gives you partial efficacy. That is because your immune system takes time to develop. It is a biological process and the system needs some time. The severity of the COVID effect will be a lot less after the second dose, Dr. Raches explained.

Right now pregnant and lactating mothers, special population and kids are not allowed to be given vaccines. Once separate clinical trials are done on these groups and proved effective those groups may be allowed to give a JAB he said

Women in Menstruation and couple conceiving are most welcome to take jabs. Dr. Raches ridiculed half-knowledge and misinformation spreading on WhatsApp. Please cut down your time on WhatsApp as it is spreading a lot of misleading information and trust only such information comes out from a trusted source, he said.

Speaking about contra indication, he said it is doctors’ call whether or not to suggest inoculation to HIV and immunocompromised people. Though the vaccine is safe, the doctors are the ultimate authority to decide on it he said.

Speaking about heard immunity Dr. Raches said if the majority of the population are inoculated the virus spread breaks and that is when we will achieve heard immunity. When asked about cross-matching of different vaccines he said as of now no mix and match. The studies are on, if proved well, then we can take a call in the future.

Speaking on distribution he said right now we are allowed to sell vaccines to the Union Government, The State Governments, and Private Hospitals in the ratio of 70:20 and 10. If any corporates planning to inoculate their staff, they may collaborate with private hospitals explained Dr. Raches.

About WHO approval he said we have initiated the process and may get its approval soon. A few of our products in the past got their approval. We expect approval for Covaxin by the end of Q(quarter)3 or Q 4.

The virtual talk held on Zoom Platform.