Mumbai: Drug firm Wockhardt is close to inking a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a foreign vaccine company for a technology transfer to manufacture Covid vaccines, besides offering its domestic vaccine capacity with potentially 2 billion doses a year, for the Centre.
“After the tech-transfer agreement with the foreign firm is in place, we plan to repurpose our facility at Aurangabad. The facility will be able to manufacture about 500 million doses a year, but some investments will be required. We have approached the banks for the funds. If all goes according to plan, vaccines can be rolled out by September,” Wockhardt founder-chairman & group CEO Habil Khorakiwala told TOI in an exclusive interview.
He did not disclose details, including the name of the company as the final agreement is yet to be signed.
Elaborating on the proposal to the Centre, he said Wockhardt can manufacture vaccines if technological transfer is made available by the government. The company could start making vaccine doses once its facility has been repurposed. “We have experience in biotech and complex technology, and can manufacture vaccines across platforms including messenger or mRNA, protein-based and viral vector-based technologies,” he added.
For this, “substantial” investments in plant and machinery will be required, and it could take up to two years for the facility. Wockhardt has a strong diabetes portfolio in India, and was the front-runner in Asia in launching human insulin in 2003, and the long-acting insulin analog glargine in 2009.
“Vaccines will be required for a long time, and we need to build capacity for the country as well as emerging markets. We are prepared (to do it) and offer it at a reasonable price. I’ve had discussions with the Centre, and have offered a proposal. The Centre can help (us) in accessing technology and identifying potential partners to make vaccines in our facility. We should not lose our strength as a country with one of the largest vaccine manufacturing capabilities,” Khorakiwala added.
The government’s response was “positive” he said, adding funds were also assured as announced under the recently unveiled RBI’s Covid package for vaccine manufacturers. Wockhardt’s UK facility is already offering fill-finish Covid vaccines under an agreement with the UK government, and is now engaged in rolling out the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country.

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