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Serum, Bharat Biotech to work together for 'smooth rollout' of Covid vaccines in India

Combined photo of Serum Institute's CEO Adar Poonawalla (right) and Bharat Biotech CMD Dr Krishna Ella (left)Premium
Combined photo of Serum Institute's CEO Adar Poonawalla (right) and Bharat Biotech CMD Dr Krishna Ella (left)

  • 'The more important task in front of them is saving the lives and livelihoods of populations in India and the world,' the companies said
  • 'The focus is on manufacturing, supply and distribution, such that populations that need it the most receive high quality, safe and efficacious vaccines,' the statement read

Days after India's drugs regulator approved emergency use authorization of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, locally manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech's indigenously manufactured Covaxin, both the vaccine manufacturers jointly communicated their pledge towards a 'smooth rollout' of COVID-19 vaccines to India and the world.

In a joint statement issued by SII CEO Adar Poonawalla and Bharat Biotech's Chairman Dr Krishna Ella, the companies said that "the more important task in front of them is saving the lives and livelihoods of populations in India and the world."

Vaccines are a global public health good and they have the power to save lives and accelerate the return to economic normalcy at the earliest, the companies further stated.

"Now that two COVID-19 vaccines have been issued EUA (emergency use authorization) In India, the focus is on manufacturing, supply and distribution, such that populations that need it the most receive high quality, safe and efficacious vaccines," the companies said.

The also reiterated that they are "fully engaged in this activity and consider It our duty to the nation and the world at large to ensure a smooth rollout of vaccines." Each of our Companies continues their COVI0-19 vaccines development activities as planned.

"We are fully aware of the Importance of vaccines for people and countries alike, we hereby communicate our joint pledge to provide global access for our COVID-19 vaccines," they said.

On Sunday, Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved Serum's Oxford COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield' and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.

DCGI granted the approval on the basis of recommendations by a COVID-19 Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

In a PTI interview earlier, Poonawalla said that the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine will cost $3-4 per shot ( 219-292) to the Indian government and will be priced at double that rate in private market ones such sales open up.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has already been approved by the UK government. Last Wednesday, Britain became the first country to approve the shot.

Pune-based SII's shot is a Recombinant Chimpanzee Adenovirus vector vaccine (Covishield), encoding the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) glycoprotein with technology transfer from AstraZeneca/Oxford University.

Meanwhile, coming down heavily on critics expressing doubts about Bharat Biotech's Covaxin's, Dr Ella defended the company’s locally-developed coronavirus vaccine that was granted emergency authorization by the country’s regulator even though final-stage human trials haven’t been completed.

Bharat Biotech was “confident" over the vaccine’s use, Ella said at a press briefing on Monday, while criticizing media reporting surrounding Covaxin, which should finish final-phase recruitment within “two or three" days, he said. No phase-3 efficacy data has been analyzed yet and a full read out should come between March and October, according to a 41-page slide show he presented.

Bharat Biotech has already produced about 20 million doses, Ella said, which will be increased to about 150 million before July or August. The firm has previously said its vaccine -- that uses a dead version of the virus -- has efficacy rates of at least 60%, though it has yet to release detailed data. Ella said Covaxin will feature in two peer reviews in international health journals on 10 January.

With agency inputs

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