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Wockhardt plans contract manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines

Mumbai-based drug manufacturer Wockhardt is planning to emerge as a major contract manufacturer of Covid-19 vaccines and is targeting to commercially make available Russia’s single dose vaccine Sputnik Light in India by the end of this year.

The company has already started manufacturing trial batches (for regulatory purposes) following technology transfer in April from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Once the regulatory permissions are in place, will start commercial production by November or December, Dr Habil Khorakhiwala, Founder Chairman & Group CEO of Wockhardt told Business Today.

He said as per the agreement with RDIF and its coordination partner Enso Healthcare, the company will make 100 million doses of Sputnik V/Sputnik Light by June 2022 and subject to certain conditions, will supply another 500 million doses by June 2023. “We are the only company contracted in India to make Sputnik Light and probably they would like to manufacture that initially with us. Since exports of Covid-19 vaccines are banned from India, they may focus India until exports are allowed from here,” said Habil Khorakhiwala. Technology transfer for component 2 (Sputnik V) is likely to happen in another 4-6 weeks.

He said the company is in discussions for contract manufacturing with a couple of international manufacturers who are developing Covid-19 vaccines. “One of them is expecting to get permission in a few months,” said Khorakhiwala. Wockhardt has created capacity at Aurangabad to make all kinds of vaccines – vector based, protein based or mRNA vaccines. “We have more than 100 scientists in our biotechnology space, so we have R&D capability and manufacturing experience of over 20 years in manufacturing biologics,” he said.

He said Wockhardt has supplied 50-60 million doses of Astra Zeneca’s vaccine to the UK Government from its fill-finish facility in that country. That accounts for 50% of vaccinations in UK. Plans are to make another 60-70 million doses this year for the UK Government. Though that contract is expected to expire this year, Wockhardt hopes it may be extended for a few more years. The company is creating additional 100-150 million doses of fill finish capacities in the UK plant and are talking to vaccine manufacturers to use it as their fill finish facility for global markets. “We are in discussions and manufacturing may start in 6-8 months,” he said. Business Today