IT and Industries Minister K T Rama Rao on Sunday urged the Union government to set up the lab to boost vaccine production.

In a letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Minister said Hyderabad had emerged as the vaccine capital of the world. Currently, companies were sending every batch of vaccines for testing to the national vaccine testing centre in Kasauli and this was resulting in loss of 45 days of valuable time, he pointed out.

“There is a need to set up vaccine testing centre in Hyderabad” Rao said, pointing out that the move would help in production of 8 to 10 crore vaccines a month. The State government, he said, will allot the land required to establish the lab at Genome Valley. 

“I assure that the State government will extend all support for setting up the vaccine centre on a fast track,” Rama Rao said, adding that the issue has been pending for a long time. “It is time for the Central government to establish a vaccine testing centre in Hyderabad, he said.

The letter comes in the backdrop of India’s first indigenous vaccine against COVID-19, Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad. This apart, Sputnik V, Bharat Biotech and Johnson and Johnson have already initiated measures for bulk production of vaccines.

“Since the Central government has already announced plans to complete 50 per cent vaccination between August and December this year, this will require mass production of vaccines in Hyderabad. As per reports, there would be a requirement of about 100 crore doses in the next six months,” the Minister said.

Considering the need to increase vaccine supply, the Central government should set up a second vaccine testing centre in Hyderabad. Apart from helping in increasing vaccine production, establishing a testing centre will cut down the time for approvals, he said. Experts say that a third wave would hit India between September and December 2021, he said, adding that vaccines were the only solution in the fight against Covid. “Hence, increasing the rate of vaccination is even more critical,” he pointed out.

The testing centre could be established in an existing set up like the National Animal Resource Facility for Biomedical Research, Central Drug Testing Laboratory, Hyderabad, to address the immediate requirement while a state-of-the-art full-fledged facility can be built parallelly to cater to testing requirements on a long term to ensure uninterrupted national and global supply of vaccines, the Minister said.0

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