Home / Companies / News /  COVID-19 vaccine: Govt signs fresh deal with Serum Institute for 20 million Covishield doses

The Centre has inked a fresh deal with Serum Institute of India for 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, sources told Mint. The order was signed last week, sources confirmed. Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, joined hands with British-Swedish drugmaker to produce 1 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine. The local version of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be known as Covishield.

The central government in January ordered 11 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the Pune-based pharmaceutical. The cost of the vaccine to the government would be 200 per vaccine dose for first 100 million doses, the drugmaker noted.

The 'virus-vectored' vaccine uses a weakened version of a chimpanzee common coldvirus that encodes instructions for making proteins from the novel coronavirus to generate an immune response and prevent infection.

Compared to the vaccines by United States drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna, Covishield is "logistically feasible for distribution in the country's both urban and rural parts as it can be stored at two to eight degrees celsius."

Two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart, were originally thought to offer the best protection against COVID-19. The scientists revealed that the Oxford vaccine had an overall efficacy of 70%, but could be around 90% effective when administered as a half dose followed by a full dose a month later.

About 3,000 people were given the half dose and then a full dose four weeks later, with data showing 90% were protected. In the larger group, who were given two full doses also four weeks apart, efficacy was 62%. The led AstraZeneca to announce in November a new global trial of the vaccine with the half-dose/full-dose regime.

"Covishield is highly effective vaccine against novel coronavirus," Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer, Serum Institute of India earlier mentioned. The company has made 50 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine.

India started COVID-19 vaccination drive on 16 January with healthcare workers and essential service providers. The second phase of nationwide coronavirus vaccination commenced on 1 March. Those who are above 60, will be eligible for vaccination in this round. People who are above 45 years age and have co-morbid conditions can also register for COVID-19 vaccine during this phase. Over 20 million people have received their shots against COVID-19 virus so far.

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