TN’s IVC facility is lying dormant, use it for Covid vaccine production: Experts to CM

Civic organisation People First gathered signatures of over 50 experts in Tamil Nadu to suggest the use of the IVC facility at Chengalpattu, lying dormant since 2017


As many as 51 people co-signed an appeal drafted by People First Joint Convenor Thomas Franco on May 20, 2021, requesting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Finance Minister to run the sophisticated Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) for Covid vaccine production.

The sophisticated BSL 3 compliant, WHO standard IVC in Chengalpattu was ready after construction and installation of labs in 2017. Yet, four years later, it has still not produced any vaccines.

“In 14 blocks, it has five bulk vaccine antigen production units and four formulation units. It also has four filling lines with 200 vials/min speed. Only commissioning and validation are pending,” said Franco in the letter.


Block Name

Vaccine / Operations



Antigen Bulk Production Blocks

1. Tissue culture based inactivated viral bulk Block

Proposed for Rabies & JE Antigen Bulk Production

2. Tissue culture based live attenuated viral bulk Block

Proposed for Measles & Rubella Antigen Bulk Production

3. Multiple Bulk Block

Proposed for Hep B & Hib Antigen Bulk Production

Formulation and Fill-Finish Blocks

4. BVF Block (Only Liquid Products)

Liquid Vaccine Formulation & filling

5. VVF Block (Liquid & Lyophilized Products)

Line-1: For liquid and lyophilized vaccines

Line-2: For liquid and lyophilised vaccines

Antigen Bulk Production, Formulation and Fill-Finish Blocks

6. BCG Block (Liquid & Lyophilized)

BCG Antigen Bulk, Formulation & Fill-Finish

Secondary Packaging Block

7. Secondary Packaging Block

Labeling & Packing of all vaccine products

Service Block

8. Central Laundry & Canteen Block

Entry, Primary Gowning, Exit, Central Laundry & Canteen Services


Functional Blocks

Block Name

Vaccines / Operations

Testing Blocks

QC Lab (II Floor of Central Main Block)

In vitro testing of all vaccines (FGs, Antigen Bulk, In-Process Controls, RM & PM testing)

9.  Animal House

Animal breeding & In vivo testing of all vaccines (FGs, Antigen Bulk & In-Process Controls)


10. Warehouse

All Goods Receipts, Storage & Distribution


11. Utility Block

Engineering & Utility Services

12. Raw Water Treatment Plant & Fire Hydrant Tank

RW Storage, purification & distribution


13. ETP & STP Plants

Effluent & sewerage collection, treatment and disposal


14. Power Substation

110 KV Power Substation

Central Main Block

15. Admin, Finance, SCM, IT & Marketing – Ground Floor

15. QC – 1st Floor

15. QC – 2nd Floor

Admin, Finance, SCM, IT & Marketing

Quality Assurance

Quality Control Laboratories


8. Central Laundry & Canteen

Central Canteen Services


16. Security & Time Office

Security Services, Time Office & Parking Lots

He argued that the first three blocks can be easily converted for Covid-19 vaccine production as the capabilities needed are similar. Around Rs. 100 crore may be needed initially. The campus can also be used for production of other vaccines, testing, animal trials etc., said a note attached with the letter.

In 2012, the government allotted 100 acres of land for the IVC to allow the public sector to contribute towards vaccine production. The facility was to be the nodal centre for public sector manufacturing and research. The IVC, with its capacity of 585 million doses per year, can ensure a huge supply of vaccines at affordable prices. If required, its capacities can also be further augmented.

Accordingly, the letter suggested that the state government should take control of the unit through successful tender bids using public enterprises like TIDCO.

“Some professional expertise may be needed. This will be a pioneering initiative in biotechnology which will pave the way for many more to come up. Bharat Biotech can be asked to use it for filling and packing Covaxin alone and not to take over as proposed in the tender for 15 years,” said Franco.

Using this strategy, other state governments can be asked to place orders for the Covid-19 vaccine and provide advances for production. The profit margin can then be used to make the unit fully functional within a short time.

For funding, the Tamil Nadu government can finance the project partially and ask banks under a consortium to lend more with a concrete purchase order for the vaccine. Already, SBI has provided two term loans of Rs. 100 crore and Rs. 154 crore along with Bank Guarantee and Letter of Credit facilities. Similarly, NABARD funding can also be explored.

Members said that the project will help in the current crisis where rather than waiting for private investors to act in time, the government can put forward a viable proposal in a short time.

Alternatively, the central government can be asked to provide funds immediately to produce Covid-19 vaccines using the Compulsory Licensing option considering Covaxin was developed and tested by National Institute of Virology and ICMR funding. Moreover, experts worried about handing over this project to the private sector during a time of national disaster.

They also said that the Centre should allot more funds for production of other vaccines as planned. Bharat Biotech should be asked to enter into a technology transfer agreement to facilitate production under public sector, joint sector arrangements or plug and play arrangements in terms of the development of Covid vaccine supply alone if there is no other way and the government does not have Rs. 300 to 400 crores.

Urgent need for vaccine production

Taking stock of the situation so far, the People First observed that severe shortage of vaccines has resulted in calls for vaccine imports. This when India, other than China, was the only country exporting almost half its vaccines to other countries, mostly in the developing and underdeveloped world.

In terms of vaccine manufacturing, the country has now lost the supremacy to China and the US. Still, it is possible to regain the strength in vaccine supply if the central government is willing to take on a positive view of the public sector role and in particular attend to the challenge of revival of the IVC, said Franco.

Image Source: People First


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