India began administering Covid-19 vaccines to children in the age group of 15-18 years (those born in 2005, 2006 and 2007) on Monday. Till late evening, nearly 40 lakh children received the first shot of Covid-19 vaccine.
The Union health ministry had earlier announced that only Covaxin, the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech, will be administered to children in the 15-18 year age group and that additional doses of Covaxin were being sent to all states and Union Territories. Around 10 crore teenagers are eligible for the shot.
Bharat Biotech on Monday said they had augmented production and were well prepared to support the inoculation programme. The company further said it will supply around 5-6 crore doses of Covaxin in January 2022 and scale it up to 7-8 crore doses by February.
“We continue to invest, upgrade and expand our facilities. As stated before, manufacturing scale-up has been carried out in a stepwise manner across multiple, specially designed bio-safety level-3 production facilities in Hyderabad in Telangana, Malur in Karnataka and Ankleshwar in Gujarat and Pune in Maharashtra,” the company said. The vaccine maker added that it was on target to touch an annualised 1 billion doses of Covaxin.
Meanwhile, the Union health ministry on Monday released a statement clarifying that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) had earlier approved the extension of shelf-life of Covaxin and Covishield vaccines to 12 months and 9 months, respectively. The statement was made to dismiss some reports that claimed expired vaccines were being administered in the country.
“On October 25, 2021, in response to Bharat Biotech’s letter, the CDSCO approved the extension of the shelf-life of Covaxin (Whole Virion, Inactivated Coronavirus Vaccine) from 9 months to 12 months,” the ministry said.
The shelf-life of vaccines is extended by the CDSCO on the basis of a comprehensive analysis and examination of the stability study data furnished by the vaccine manufacturers, the ministry added.