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The central government ordered 11 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
The central government ordered 11 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine: Serum Institute of India expects WHO emergency approval for Covishield soon

  • The emergency use licensure from the WHO should be available and coming through in the next week or two, said Adar Poonawalla

The Serum Institute of India expects WHO emergency-use authorisation soon for the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, its chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla said.

"The emergency use licensure from the WHO (World Health Organization) should be available and coming through in the next week or two, hopefully, because we have submitted everything," Adar Poonawalla told the Reuters Next conference on Thursday.

Poonawalla also said his company would start stockpiling millions of doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine candidate from around April.

The Serum Institute CEO said a special purpose vehicle housing its pandemic-related products should be valued at $12 billion to $13 billion.

"We are in a unique position to be able to make so many different vaccines at a huge volume and capacity," he said. "For an investor to come in an at a $12-13 billion valuation, it will be a fantastic deal, leaving a lot of upside," he further added.

The Serum Institute of India will try to conduct the bridging trial for Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine candidate in India in February, said CEO Adar Poonawalla on Thursday. In August, Novavax signed a deal with Pune-based Serum Institute, to produce a minimum of one billion doses of its vaccine candidate, when approved, for low- and middle-income countries and India. Later, the US drug developer doubled its potential COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity to two billion doses annually.

India is all set to begin its nationwide COVID-19 inoculation drive, starting 16 January. To fight against novel coronavirus, the country earlier granted emergency approval to two vaccines — Covishield by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech. In the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, health workers, both from government and private institutions, will be vaccinated along with sanitation workers, other frontline workers, defence forces, police and other paramilitary forces, the Prime Minister said.

The central government on Monday ordered 11 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India, the Pune-based pharmaceutical firm confirmed. The cost of the vaccine to the government would be 200 per vaccine dose for first 100 million doses, the drugmaker noted.

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