With several countries joining the race for the Coronavirus vaccine, India has been getting several requests for the supply of ampoules, vials and syringes which play a critical role in administering the vaccine to the population on a mass level. Several big players involved in the manufacturing of ampoules, vials and syringes in the country have been contacted by domestic as well as international players to supply billions of these articles for quick vaccination of people, according to an Indian Express report. Among the manufacturers which have been contacted are German-Indian pharma glass, packaging joint venture Schott Kaisha along with the Indian arm of German pharma packaging giant Gerresheimer. Serum Institute of India (SII) has alone contacted these manufacturers to supply a million vials every month while Bharat Biotech which is producing India’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccine has contacted the Indian arm of German pharma packaging giant Gerresheimer.
Similar requests have been received by the syringe makers in the country starting from the Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices (HMD), BD India which is the Indian arm of the New Jersey based medical equipment major company. Both these manufacturers have in the last few weeks been contacted by organisations like the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and GAVI(the vaccine alliance).
While the demand of these critical articles has suddenly increased, the manufacturers don’t see an impending shortage of these articles as the companies are looking forward to packing as many as 10 vaccine doses in a single tubular borosilicate glass vial. But many companies have also hinted at increasing their production capacity to meet the demand of all domestic as well as international pharma companies. Close industry sources also told the Indian Express that currently the country has the capacity to manufacture more than 2 billion vials.
Mumbai-headquartered Schott Kaisha director Rishad Dadachanji told the IE that the company has already started the delivery of over 5 million multi dose vials to the Serum Institute of India every month for its Covid-19 requirements. He also said that the supply to the Serum Institute is in addition to what his company has been supplying to a Pune firm for the vaccines of several immunisation programmes. The firm which has the capacity to boost up its production to close to 1 billion vials has also received queries from countries like the United States, Europe and Russia. Its vial sample product has also been dispatched to various countries for its clinical assessment by regulators.
Borosil Managing Director Shreevar Kheruka said that all international clients first want to check the glass and the stability of the products. He also said that the company has an annual capacity to supply 250 million vials and it could be expanded by about one third every year. Gerresheimer’s India arm has also started doubling its capacity from the current 150 million vials to make it 300 million vials a year.
Expressing difficulty at gauging the extent of increase in demand, Khasim Saheb, Managing Director, Primary Packaging Glass-India, Gerresheimer said that according to initial estimates about a billion doses. He also said that additionally the demand from Indian manufacturers for global supplies would not be less than 1.5-3 billion doses.
While the vial manufacturers are being contacted by the vaccine producing pharma companies, the syringe manufacturers in the country are being directly contacted by the government agencies as they are directly involved in administering the vaccine. Indian companies have a capacity of manufacturing over 2 billion syringes, however not all of these are auto-disabled syringes which are usually preferred in such mass vaccination programmes.
HMD which has the present capacity to manufacture about 700 million auto-disabled syringes is looking forward to scaling it up to 1 billion by the first half of the year 2021. It has already got the orders from UNICEF to boost up its supply to over 300 million syringes to build a stock of over 140 million syringes exclusively for the Covid-19 vaccination. BD which has the global capacity of manufacturing over 7 billion syringes has also been contacted by various government agencies.