Covid-19 vaccine likely to be available by Jan, will be affordable: Adar Poonawalla

  November 5, 2020

New Delhi, November 5 : Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer (CEO) of Pune-based pharmaceutical company Serum Institute of India (SII), on Wednesday said that a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is likely to be available in the country by January 2021 provided approvals from regulatory bodies are in place in time.

In an interview with Mint, Poonawalla said, “Based on the success of the trials in India and the United Kingdom, and if approvals from regulatory bodies are in place in time, then we can expect the vaccine to be available in India by January 2021, only if its proven immunogenic and efficacious.”

The SII is working in collaboration with British-Swedish pharma major AstraZeneca to produce the potential Covid-19 vaccine Covishield.

Covishield, developed by University of Oxford, is currently in the phase 2/3 clinical trial in the country and will be produced by SII for low-and-middle income countries.

Poonawalla said that the vaccine shot has so far been given to thousands of people in India and abroad with no safety concerns. He, however, added that it will take two to three years to ascertain the long-term effects of the vaccine.

According to a report published in the British medical journal The Lancet, the potential Covid-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55. AstraZeneca and Oxford University have said a two-dose regimen showed greater promise, while a single-dose injection is also being tested in trials.

The CEO of the world’s largest drug manufacturing firm also said that the firm is in talks with the government over the pricing of the vaccine and assured that it will be made available at a reasonable price. “We are certain that it will be affordable for all,” he said.

SII aims to manufacture about 60-70 million doses, and stretch it up to 100 million doses of the vaccine per month, Poonawalla said, adding, “We should be able to reach there over the next few months.”

The pharma firm has also entered into a partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to speed up the process of manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for India and other third world countries.