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Serum Institute chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla. mint (MINT_PRINT)
Serum Institute chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla. mint (MINT_PRINT)

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine: Serum Institute to apply for emergency authorisation in next 2 weeks

  • The central government might buy 300-400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by July, said Poonawalla
  • India will be given first priority for the delivery of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, said Adar Poonawalla of SII

Serum Institute of India will apply for emergency authorisation of COVID-19 vaccine in next two weeks, the chief executive Adar Poonawalla said on Saturday. Pune based drugmaker partnered with global pharma giant AstraZeneca to produce COVID-19 vaccine by University of Oxford for low-and-middle income countries. Dubbed as Covishield, the COVID-19 vaccine is currently in the Phase III clinical trial in India.

Covishield is highly effective vaccine against novel coronavirus, said Poonawalla. AstraZeneca and Oxford University earlier said that their drug had proved on average 70% effective at stopping the virus after trying it on 23,000 people. "Moreover, there was zero hospitalisation during the trial and 60% reduction in sterilizing immunity," the chief executive added.

India will be given first priority for the delivery of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume said. "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 added.

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited the manufacturing facility of Serum Institute of India in Pune to personally review the vaccine development."Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility," said Modi on Twitter.

"PM Narendra Modi 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," Poonawalla added.

"We have built the largest pandemic level facility in Pune and our new campus in Mandri. That was also showcased to the PM with a tour around the facility & a lot of detailed discussions," he further mentioned.

Poonawalla said the manufacturer has already produced 40-50 million doses of the vaccine per month. "We are planning to stretch it up to 100 million doses of the vaccine per month by January, February," Poonawalla told.

On vaccine deals with central government, SII CEO said, "As of now, we don't have anything in writing with the govt of India on how many doses they will purchase but the indication is that it would be 300-400 million doses by July, 2021,"

The Oxford drug can be transported easily at normal refrigerator temperatures — unlike some of the other candidates, which require extremely cold storage, he added.

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