There is also an additional capacity to manufacture 9.3 crore vials over next six months, while some of the vial-makers are also planning to further augment capacity, official sources said.
A government sub-committee — under the National Expert Group for Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 — which is examining supply chain and logistics has prepared a blueprint with projected demand, inventory, spare capacity and the plans of companies to ramp up.
This plan has been drawn after consultations with vaccine manufacturers and vial-makers to ensure there is full preparedness while expectations are rife that a vaccine against Covid-19 will be ready for rollout in early 2021, a senior official said.
“The three vaccine makers — Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute and Cadila — which are working on Covid-19 vaccines have indicated that they will together need around 6.10 crore glass vials to store the vaccine in the first six months and that they have sufficient stock with them to cater to this demand. We have also held meetings with vial-makers who have indicated their spare capacity to manufacture more,” the official said. Major players in the vial manufacturing segment include Schottkaisha, Saint Gobain, Borosil Klasspack and Gerresheimer India.
The health ministry has indicated that once the Covid-19 vaccine is approved, it will be administered to 20-25 crore people including healthcare and front-line workers by mid-2021. A two-dose vaccine would mean around 50 crore doses in the first phase.
Vaccine manufacturers say the vaccine can be stored in multi-dose vials and one vial can store up to 10 doses, significantly bringing down the requirement for vials.
However, the government has asked vial manufacturers to expand the capacity, if required. The government also has an inventory of vials under its universal immunisation programme which can also be utilised in case of shortages, officials said.
Meanwhile, vial-makers are also looking at innovative technology to develop vials that can carry even more doses. This can be helpful in future as India is likely to cater to a huge export demand too along with its local requirements for vaccine once it is launched, industry executives said.