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Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India.

COVID vaccine distribution: India will be our priority, said Serum CEO Poonawalla

  • The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed initially in India, then we will look at the COVAX countries, said Poonawalla
  • Serum Institute of India is in active discussions with the Indian government on pricing and distribution of potential COVID-19 vaccines

India will be our priority for distributing coronavirus vaccine, said Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of Serum Institute of India on Saturday. The world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume has joined hands with British-Swedish company AstraZeneca to produce COVID-19 vaccine by University of Oxford for low-and-middle income countries.

"The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed initially in India, then we will look at the COVAX countries which are mainly in Africa. Our priority is India & COVAX countries," Poonawalla said during a virtual press conference on Saturday.

"The United Kingdom and European markets are being taken care of by AstraZeneca and Oxford," he further mentioned.

Serum Institute of India is in active discussions with the Indian government on pricing and distribution of potential COVID-19 vaccines, said Poonawalla.

Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective, and the Indian trials are progressing smoothly with strict adherence to all protocols, Poonawalla reiterated.

Earlier this week, AstraZeneca and Oxford University acknowledged a manufacturing error that is raising questions about preliminary results of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

The Indian trials are running smoothly with strict adherence to all the necessary processes and protocols. So far, there are no concerns, he mentioned. The vaccine maker may run another trial later to test the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine for those who are below 18.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune to review the development and manufacturing process of coronavirus vaccines at facilities in these cities. He visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and Serum Institute of India in Pune.

Modi interacted with the Poonawallas, scientists and other executives, who briefed him on the vaccine's progress. "PM is extremely knowledgable now on vaccines & vaccine production. We were amazed at what he already knew. There was very little to explain to him, except for going into detail on different variable vaccines & the challenges that they may face ahead," said Poonawalla.

Poonawalla said, "Worldwide everybody is now dependent and is looking forward to the vaccines coming out in large volumes and at affordable price from India as everybody already knows that more than 50 to 60 per cent of all vaccines are made in India."

With the Aatmanirbhar Bharat vision in mind, Serum Institute has built the largest pandemic level facility in Pune in its sister campus at Manjri and that was showcased also to the Prime Minister, he added.

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