HLL Biotech at Chengalpet in Tamil Nadu, a sprawling 100-acre campus located 55 km from Chennai, is equipped with all modern facilities and has state-of-the-art technology to manufacture vaccines but was not used during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There were not many takers to use the Public Sector Undertaking facility even after it floated a tender for its Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) to manufacture vaccines.
HLL Biotech has an annual capacity of 585 million vaccine doses and was intended to make vaccines under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) of the Indian Government. The company was formed to produce an uninterrupted supply of vaccines under the UIP. It has the state-of-the-art multi-bacterial and multi-viral facilities to meet any epidemic or pandemic situation.
However, with the Central government extending the deadline for bids to May 21, four private firms have approached the company. The private firms have already discussed with HLL Biotech officials the difficulties over the huge upfront fee of Rs 52 crore.
A senior official with HLL Biotech preferring anonymity told IANS, “Four companies have approached us in a pre-bid meeting and have raised concerns over the upfront money. They want to reduce this upfront money of Rs 52 crore. The upfront money is now reduced and we hope that the bid is through.”
There is, however, no clarity as to when the vaccines would be rolled out from the IVC at HLL Biotech.
Member of Parliament (MP) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader, P. Wilson, has been vociferously demanding that the Union government must utilise the vaccine manufacturing facilities in Tamil Nadu, including that of state PSUs such as Pasteur Institute of India in Coonoor, Udhagamandalam and Kings Institute of Preventive Medicine and Research in Guindy, Chennai.