Home / Science / News /  COVID-19 vaccine: Serum Institute to make 10 crore doses each month from next year

Serum Institute of India plans to make up to 10 crore doses of coronavirus vaccine each month, starting next year, said chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla. 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.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Poonawalla revealed that the pharma major is increasing its production capacity by the end of 2021 to over 250 crore doses a year to cope with future disease outbreaks. Poonawalla's company now has an annual capacity of 150 crore doses.

So far, the company has made 5 crore doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine. It has already applied for emergency use authorisation of the vaccine in India. India's drugs regulator said this week it had sought more data to make a decision on emergency authorisation for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

“It’ll still take two months (after it is licensed) before large volumes roll out," CEO said.

Covishield is highly effective vaccine against novel coronavirus, Poonawalla said earlier. 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. It uses a weakened version of a chimpanzee common coldvirus that encodes instructions for making proteins from the novel coronavirus to generate an immune response and prevent infection.

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

The world's largest vaccine producer will also manufacture another formulation developed by Novavax Inc. Organizations such the GAVI vaccine group and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are backing both candidates for large-scale distribution around the globe.

SII has secured funding from GAVI and the Gates Foundation to deliver up to 20 crore doses of both vaccines for India and other low-and middle-income countries. Under this agreement, the 10 crore doses of coronavirus vaccine will be priced at a maximum of $3 each.

Covishield is logistically feasible for distribution in the country's both urban and rural parts as it can be stored at two to eight degrees celsius.

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