India waffles on vax plant (again)

India's domestic vaccine-making odyssey continues. Its plant in Chennai, used to make the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine, is stuck, able to neither continue cGMP renovation work nor start vaccine production.

The Union Health Ministry has asked the plant director to delay purchasing equipment needed to bring the plant up to WHO-GMP standards. Noncompliance had led to license cancellation and the plant's shutdown.

After initially flipping the closure switch, officials flopped in 2008 by directing that the plant and two other state vaccine facilities be renovated within three years. The work began.

The 2008 decision followed a domestic vaccine shortage that led to a scramble for inventory from foreign suppliers. That experience led officials to the conclusion that India's vax needs would be best met by internal suppliers.

But in another flip, the ministry now wants more time to decide the fate of the facility. 

And tipping its hand to another potential flop, it has directed the Chennai plant director to investigate the seed strain intended for the BCG vaccine production. It's now several years old and showing signs that may no longer be usable.

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