Covid-19 Vaccine: SII Stockpiles 40-50 Million Doses, To Produce 300 Million Shots By July

Serum Institute, which is manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in India, said that the first six months of 2021 will see a shortage globally.

The Pune-based vaccine maker, Serum Institute of India (SII) is ready with a stockpile of 40 to 50 million doses of ‘Covishield‘, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and British drug manufacturer AstraZeneca, a top company official said.

SII Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said India will get most of the vaccines produced next year, with some of the production also going to other markets as part of COVAX—a global initiative to ensure fast and equal access for all countries to COVID-19 vaccines.

“We have already manufactured 40-50 million dosages of the vaccine. The rollout of the vaccine is expected to be a bit slow in the initial phase due to logistics issue and is expected to pick up once things get sorted.”

“India is a part of ‘COVAX’. We will keep giving 50 per cent of everything we make to India & to COVAX at the same time. India has such a large population that we will probably end up giving the majority of those 50 million doses to India first,” Poonawalla said.

300 million doses by July 2021

The SII leader asserted that by July next year his company would be able to generate about 300 million doses.

As per the Covid-19 vaccination plan drawn by the government, about 30 crore ‘priority’ population including healthcare and frontline workers, people above 50 years age and those below 50 but with co-morbidities will be inoculated in the first round, likely to be over by July. Although Covishield is a two-dose vaccine, for the first step, there’s a demand of about 60 crore doses.

In the first six months, some shortages could be expected.  Nobody can help that. By August-September, things will ease out as other manufacturers will also launch supplies, he said.

Poonawalla further reported that the ‘Covishield’ Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine could soon be approved in the UK and could also get the approval of the Indian regulator by next month.

The Pune-based company applied earlier this month to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for the country’s emergency use authorisation for the Oxford vaccine, becoming the first indigenous company to do so.

Poonawalla had previously said that his firm would give India first preference over other nations with regard to the distribution of the vaccine.

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