The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd will soon start manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines in Pune, through subsidiary Biovet Pvt Ltd, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced on Friday.

“It will take around three months for the company to start production of vaccines from this facility,” Pawar told media persons.

The state would also request the BBIL to give priority to supply vaccines to Maharashtra after fulfilling its commitments to the Centre, he added.

The development comes a couple of days after Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Raot and Collector Rajesh Deshmukh toured the 11-acre plus site in Manjari Khurd where the manufacturing facility will start. This came in wake of a ruling of the Bombay High Court bench comprising Justice K. K. Tated and Justice Nitin Borkar in a plea filed by the Karnataka-based Biovet Pvt Ltd seeking that Maharashtra government should hand over the Pune facility to it.

The Manjari Khurd facility had come up on land granted by the state government to a private company in 1973 to manufacture vaccines for the food and mouth disease.

Later, however, that company had quit its operations here and tied up with Biovet Pvt Ltd for the transfer of the land and the plant, which was objected to by the Maharashtra Forest Department.

With the legal hassles behind, the plant officials are optimistic of making the Manjari Khurd facility fully functional by August-end to start rolling out the much-needed Covid-19 doses.

Currently, the government-owned BBIL is one of the two Indian companies, along with the private Serum Institute of India Ltd (SIL), manufacturing the Covaxin and Covishield vaccines, respectively.

A Health Department official said that the plant has the full infrastructure plus the expertise and manpower and can start rolling out vaccines in the next 3-4 months, though the exact quantity of doses to be produced is not yet known.

Biovet Pvt Ltd teams are currently examining and assessing the complete infrastructure installed there, the manufacturing line and processes which will be completed within a week to ensure safe production at the facility.

Officials say that the production from the new facility here would greatly boost the ongoing requirements for the nationwide inoculation currently underway with Maharashtra leading the country in terms of the total number of people – 1,93,12,943 – who have been vaccinated till date.

–IANS

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