Home / News / 'If there's a larger breakout...': What Adar Poonawalla said on monkeypox vaccine

As Delhi detected a case of monkeypox virus in a 34-year-old triggering worries, Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla said if there's a larger breakout of monkeypox cases in India, his company is willing to import a few million doses of a Danish smallpox vaccine. Smallpox vaccines can be used to treat monkeypox. Adar Poonawalla also said that his company is willing to use its own funds to purchase the Danish smallpox vaccine, manufactured by the Danish company Bavarian Nordic, to vaccine people in India against the monkeypox virus.

Adar Poonawalla said that his company is in talks with the Danish smallpox vaccine-making company but if India should stockpile a few million doses of the vaccine, "that's a decision the Union government will have to make."

"...should we, like other nations, start stockpiling a small quantity, just a few million doses of the vaccine. I am prepared to import it at risk at my cost, initially, in small volumes. Eventually, the government will have to decide on a health policy," Poonawalla said.

Also Read | Is monkeypox virus similar to Covid-19? Is it worrying?

Adar Poonawalla said if a case emergency arises, "we could always do the full finish of the product made by that company. That would give access to Indians without safety issues - since the vaccine is time-tested. To make it from scratch will take some time. Bulk supply should be adequate to handle."

Adar Poonawalla was speaking with NDTV. The vaccine-maker also said that the vaccine to treat monkeypox cases will be made as affordable as possible, even though no costs have been decided yet.

While importing the Danish smallpox vaccine is on the cards, the Serum Institute is also exploring the development of a new Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine for the monkeypox virus. It is being done with Novavax. However, it could take over a year to make a vaccine.

"We are talking to Novovax. We really need to see whether there will be a lot of demand or whether in three to four months it fizzles out," Poonawalla told NDTV.

Monkeypox has been around for decades so, Adar Poonawalla said it was no mystery that the cases were coming up.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday declared monkeypox as the global public health emergency. It was the highest alarm the WHO could sound. The WHO has also said that the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak can be stopped.

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