Home / Science / Health /  'COVID-19 vaccine to be available in India by January if...,' says Serum Institute CEO Poonawalla

A safe and effective vaccine against novel coronavirus may be available in India by January 2021, says Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer (CEO), Serum Institute of India. Pune based drugmaker joined hands with British-Swedish pharma major AstraZeneca to produce the coronavirus vaccine for low-and-middle income countries, developed by University of Oxford. Dubbed as Covishield, the vaccine is currently in the Phase II/III clinical trial in the country. "Based on the success of the trials in India and the United Kingdom, and if approvals from regulatory bodies are in place in time, then we can expect the vaccine to be available in India by January 2021, only if its proven immunogenic and efficacious, Poonawalla said in an interview with Mint.

"The current data pertaining to the trials show that there are no immediate concerns pertaining to Covishield," Poonawalla added. "So far, thousands of people have had it in India and abroad with no safety concerns," he further explained. However it will take two to three years to ascertain the long-term effects of the vaccine, he said.

The vaccine maker earlier shortlisted 17 sites in India for the Phase II clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccine. At least 1,600 candidates aged between 18 to 55, participated in the Phase II clinical trial. The phase III trial begun at few sites last month.

The COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is one of the most advanced candidates in the race against the novel coronavirus. The recombinant viral vector vaccine produces a immune response in both old and young adults, showed data released in October. The COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55, according to a report published in the British medical journal, The Lancet. AstraZeneca and Oxford University have said a two-dose regimen showed greater promise, while a single-dose injection is also being tested in trials.

COVID-19 vaccine: How much will it cost?

On pricing of the Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine in the country, Poonawalla said, "We are in conversation with the government regarding the pricing. We are certain that it will be affordable for all."

Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, aims to initially manufacture about 60-70 million doses, and stretch it up to 100 million doses of the vaccine per month, CEO said adding, "We should be able to reach there over the next few months."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide at-risk funding of $150 million to support SII’s manufacturing of two promising vaccines by University of Oxford and Novavax under the condition that the Pune-based drugmaker prices the two vaccines at a maximum of $3 per dose.

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