WHO suspends procurement & supply of Covaxin, citing issues at Bharat Biotech’s facilities

NEW DELHI — The World Health Organization suspended procurement and supply of Covaxin, a Covid-19 vaccine made by Bharat Biotech International Ltd., citing issues following an inspection at the company’s facilities.

The Indian vaccine maker has committed to address deficiencies in good manufacturing practices and is developing a corrective and preventive action plan, the World Health Organization said, without specifying when the suspension will be lifted. It recommended countries which have received the vaccine to “take actions as appropriate.”

The World Health Organization granted emergency use authorization to the vaccine co-developed by India’s medical research agency and the local manufacturer in November. It said the suspension does not change the vaccine’s risk assessment, and data indicates it is effective and no safety concerns exist.

Bharat Biotech on Friday said it will temporarily slow down production of Covaxin across its manufacturing facilities as it had completed supply obligations and expected a decrease in demand.

“Bharat Biotech agreed with the WHO team on the scope of the planned improvement activities and indicated that they will be executed as soon as practical,” it also said.

A spokesperson for Bharat Biotech declined to comment further on Sunday.

India’s federal health ministry spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment outside of regular business hours. More than 308 million doses of Covaxin have been administered across India, according to government data. — (Bloomberg)