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Union Health Secretary Visits Bilthoven Biologicals Facility to Strengthen Vaccine Collaboration

Netherlands: Union Health Secretary, Apurva Chandra, embarked on a significant visit to the manufacturing unit of Bilthoven Biologicals, a global pharmaceutical company based in Utrecht, Netherlands. The visit aimed at exploring partnerships and collaboration on vaccine production, particularly in the context of EU pandemic preparedness.

During his visit, Chandra engaged in discussions with CEO Juergen Kwik and Jef De Clercq, CEO of Poonawalla Science Park (PSP) at Bilthoven, focusing on enhancing collaboration in vaccine production. He also had the opportunity to meet the senior management team and gain insights into the various manufacturing units of the facility.

Bilthoven Biologicals is renowned for manufacturing pharmaceutical products such as vaccines for polio, diphtheria-tetanus-polio, tetanus, and bacillus calmette-guerin (BCG). The company’s acquisition by Serum India Ltd. in 2012 has bolstered its vaccine production capacity and provided a strategic manufacturing base in Europe.

A recent development in this regard is the collaboration between Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech for enhanced production of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Under this agreement, Bharat Biotech will procure drug substances from Netherlands-based Bilthoven Biologicals B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Serum Institute of India, to manufacture OPV for supply within India and globally. This collaboration significantly boosts the capacity of Bharat Biotech to manufacture OPV, with an annual capacity of 500 million doses.

The partnership holds immense significance for India’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), a key initiative by the Union Health Ministry aimed at protecting children from life-threatening conditions through vaccination. Although India was certified as polio-free in March 2014, the sustained supply of OPV remains essential to maintain this status. The collaboration between BBIL and Serum is poised to ensure a consistent supply of OPV in the country, thereby safeguarding the polio-free status achieved through extensive national and sub-national polio vaccination campaigns.

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