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Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla  (Mint)
Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla (Mint)

Govt may need 80,000 cr for covid vaccine in next 1 year: Serum Institute CEO

Adar Poonawalla's estimate of 80,000 crore, or around $11 billion, is substantially higher than the $6-bn estimate made by international brokerage Sanford Bernstein

NEW DELHI: The government may need 80,000 crore over the next one year for distribution of covid-19 vaccine to every person in India, Serum Institute of India chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla said on Saturday, calling it a "concerning challenge".

"Will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that's what @MoHFW_INDIA (health ministry) needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle," Poonawalla tweeted.

The CEO of the world's largest vaccine maker also said all manufacturers and the government need to plan and guide to cater to the immense need for covid-19 immunisation.

Serum Institute is currently conducting a phase 3 clinical trial of a vaccine co-developed by AstraZeneca plc and University of Oxford, of which the Pune-based company plans to manufacture 1 billion doses.

The company is in pact to produce another billion doses of a vaccine developed by Novavax, for which Poonawalla's firm will start phase 3 trials next month.

Serum Institute is also developing its own vaccine, which is currently in pre clinical trials.

Apart from Serum, there are two other companies, Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech International, that are conducting human trials in phase 2, as well as another half a dozen indigenous candidates that are in pre-clinical trials.

Poonawalla's estimate of 80,000 crore, or around $11 billion, is substantially higher than that made by international brokerage Sanford Bernstein of $6 billion. However, the brokerage realistically expects the government to spend only $2 billion to procure covid-19 vaccines for only 30% of the population, or half the people required to reach herd immunity, and urge the rest of the people to procure it from the private market.

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