They have traditionally been rivals, competing for market share for various vaccines, be it rabies, Hepatitis-B, DPT or even the pentavalent shot.
Competitors Bharat Biotech and Indian Immunologicals Ltd have now turned collaborators for rapid scale-up of capacities for indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin. IIL will be making the drug substance, a critical component of a vaccine, for Covaxin at its new Karakapatla facility, located near Bharat Biotech’s facility in Hyderabad’s Genome Valley.
According to sources, IIL will begin making the drug substance for about a couple of million doses of Covaxin from July as part of the two year tie-up and from November this will be ramped up to close to 10 million doses. Sources said such commercial agreements take months to hammer out but this time was sealed in four weeks.
Globally, too, Covid-19 has made allies of MNCs such as Sanofi & GSK, who are collaborating on developing a vaccine. More recently Sanofi has agreed to manufacture Moderna’s vaccine in the US and Merck has agreed to make J&J’s vaccine.
“At a recent meeting helmed by Bharat Biotech Bharat Biotech chairman Dr Krishna Ella and IIL managing director Dr K Anand Kumar were very clear this was of national importance and they should not see any other thing than to come together,” said a source with knowledge of the matter. Indian vaccine industry pioneer KI Varaprasad Reddy said: “Sanofi and GSK were bigger rivals but they are together now.”