‘TN should take over HLL Biotech vaccine unit for Covid’

The Tamil Nadu government should take over the HLL Biotech Ltd’s integrated vaccine complex at Chengalpattu by bidding successfully and ask Bharat Biotech Ltd to fill and pack its Covaxin vaccine for Covid-19, suggests group of noted personalities including retired High Court judges, bureaucrats and others.

Alternatively, they also suggested that the Central government provide funds for production of Covaxin using the Compulsory Licensing option.

Noting that Covaxin was developed and tested with National Institute of Virology and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) funding, they said the pandemic is a national disaster/emergency, and the vaccine should not be handed over to the private sector now.

HLL Biotech has invited bids from interested parties to run the integrated vaccine complex.

In a letter to Chief Minister M.K.Stalin, the group said the state government should take control of the vaccine unit through a successful tender bid by one of its enterprises like TIDCO.

“This will be a pioneering initiative in bio-technology which will pave way for many more to come up,” they said.

According to them, Bharat Biotech can be asked to use the unit for filling and packing Covaxin alone and not to take over as proposed in the tender for 15 years.

Interested state governments can be asked to place orders for Covid-19 vaccine and provide advance with which the vaccine production can start.

“The profit margin can be used to make the unit fully functional over a short period of time,” they said.

According to them, the Tamil Nadu government can finance partially and ask banks under a consortium to lend more with a concrete purchase order for vaccine.

The State Bank of India (SBI) has provided two term loans of Rs 100 crore and Rs 154 crore along with bank guarantee and letter of credit facilities.