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How govt is preparing for the 3rd wave

The government has a reserve stock of nearly 50 lakh vials of Remdesivir and plans production of Tocilizumab as part of its expansive preparations for a possible third wave of Covid-19, top government sources have told News18.

The government has also been thinking of reopening export of Covid-19 vaccines by November once enough India has enough supply of the vaccines and a majority of adults are vaccinated in the country. For now, the government’s official stand is that its focus is on the domestic vaccination exercise.

Remdesivir and Tocilizumab were crucial drugs for the management of Covid-19 patients during the second wave. There was a shortage before the government ramped up efforts to produce Remdesivir in the country and import Tocilzumab. The latter is a patented drug from Hoffman La Roche, a Swiss multinational company, and not manufactured in India.

A top source said the government presently has 50 lakh vials of Remdesivir in stock and has plans for domestic production of Tocilizumab as well in preparation for a possible third wave. The 50 lakh vials of Remdesivir were kept as a reserve for immediate release to states during emergencies. News18 has learnt that the seven licensed manufacturers of the drug in India now have a monthly capacity of nearly 1.25 crore vials per month and they have produced a total of nearly 3 crore vials so far. The export of Remdesivir could also start soon.

Vaccine Exports?
The government plans to re-open exports of the vaccine by November as by then nearly half-a-dozen domestic vaccine manufacturers are likely to be in the market and stocks would be adequate for sparing for exports. Existing manufacturers like Serum Institute of India have been asking the government to re-open exports given subdued demand for the vaccine in the private sector. The official word so far from the government however is that the focus presently is vaccination of Indians.

India had started external supplies of Covid-19 vaccines under the Vaccine Maitri initiative on January 20, 2021 in the form of grants-in-aid and commercial sales by Indian manufacturers and through GAVI’s COVAX facility. This attracted many political attacks from the Opposition. About 6.63 Cr vaccine doses were exported before it was shut down.

Other Preparations for 3rd Wave
The government has made preparations on other fronts too for a possible third wave. A total of 293 new Oxygen plants have been commissioned across the country, out of a total of 1,573 oxygen generation plants that have been sanctioned. A total of 351 additional oxygen plants are also being set up by different ministries of the union government. As on date, 1,244 Liquid Medical Oxygen Tankers are available in the country. The capacity of nearly two lakh Oxygen cylinders has also been added since April. News18