The government has an ambitious target of 10 million vaccinations per day by August

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has finalized arrangements with Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer Biological-E to reserve 30 crore (300 million) COVID-19 vaccine doses. This has been done aiming at the stiff vaccine manufacturing target by the year end.

Announcing this development on Thursday, the health ministry noted that the COVID-19 vaccine of Biological-E is currently undergoing Phase-3 clinical trials after showing promising results in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. The vaccine being developed by Biological-E is a RBD protein sub-unit vaccine and is likely to be available in the next few months.

These vaccine doses will be manufactured and stockpiled by Biological-E from August-December 2021. For this purpose, the Health ministry would be making an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to Biological-E.

The proposal of Biological-E was examined and recommended for approval after due diligence by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), the health ministry said.

Besides Covaxin and Serum Institute of India's Covishield, Russia's Sputnik V will soon be used to vaccinate people as the government races towards a target of one crore vaccinations a day by August. It is also in talks with foreign makers like Pfizer and Moderna, who have insisted on an indemnity clause.

The new vaccine arrangement is "part of the wider endeavour of the government to encourage indigenous vaccine manufacturers" by providing them support in research and development and costs, the Health Ministry said.

The government said Biological-E's shot was given Rs 100 crore in financial assistance by the Department of Biotechnology, which also partnered with the company to conduct various studies. This is part of the government's mission to support five or six new COVID-19 vaccine candidates, said the statement.