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Serum Institute chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla (Mint)
Serum Institute chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla (Mint)

Covishield is 'low-cost, logistically manageable': Serum CEO on vaccine showing high efficacy

  • 'Further details on this will be provided this evening,' says Adar Poonawalla on Twitter
  • The vaccine developed by Oxford University was 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 when it was administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart

Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla on Monday said he's 'delighted' that Covishield will offer protection up to 90% protection against coronavirus.

AstraZeneca said on Monday its vaccine for the novel coronavirus could be around 90% effective without any serious side effects, the latest drugmaker to unveil positive interim data in a scientific race to curb a global pandemic.

The vaccine developed by Oxford University was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 when it was administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart, according to data from the late-stage trials in Britain and Brazil.

Another dosing regimen showed 62% efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart, and the combined analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70%.

"I am delighted to hear that, Covishield, a low-cost, logistically manageable & soon to be widely available, #COVID19 vaccine, will offer protection up to 90% in one type of dosage regime and 62% in the other dosage regime. Further details on this, will be provided this evening," said Poonawalla on Twitter while quote retweeting an University of Oxford tweet announcing the efficacy data of Covishield.

The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has already manufactured millions of doses of the vaccine that is being developed in collaboration with Oxford University.

Britain-based AstraZeneca has signed several supply and manufacturing deals with companies and governments around the world.

Last week at HTLS 2020, Poonawaala said that his company would seek emergency use authorisation for the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as authorities in the United Kingdom approved it and made it available for the general public.

"It's been a Herculean task and we are very happy now that we are almost now on autopilot waiting just for the vaccine results to come," Poonawaala said. "Then we can churn out hundreds of millions more of the vaccine."

The vaccine would be priced between $5-$6 in the retail market, but the Indian government would get it for much less, because they would buy it bulk, Poonawaala said.

It would take at least two to three years for all of India's 1.3 billion population to be covered, he said.

India has the world's second-highest number of infections, after the United States, but cases have slowed down since hitting a peak in September.

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