‘India Can Have COVID-19 Vaccine By January If…,’ Says Adar Poonawalla

The vaccine is currently in the Phase II/III clinical trial in the country and is named as Covishield

A safe and effective vaccine against novel coronavirus may be available in India by January 2021, says Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer, Serum Institute of India.

Serum Institute of India which is a Pune based vaccine maker has joined hands with British-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca to produce the coronavirus vaccine developed by University of Oxford.

The vaccine is currently in the Phase II/III clinical trial in the country and is named as Covishield. Poonawalla recently said in an interview, “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 it’s proven immunogenic and efficacious.”

“The current data pertaining to the trials show that there are no immediate concerns pertaining to Covishield,” Poonawalla added. He further stated, “So far, thousands of people have had it in India and abroad with no safety concerns.” However it will take two to three years to ascertain the long-term effects of the vaccine, he said.

The University of Oxford has developed the COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is one of the most advanced candidates in the race against the novel coronavirus. A data released in October showed that the recombinant viral vector vaccine produce an immune response in both old and young adults.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University have said a two-dose regimen showed greater promise, while a single-dose injection is also being tested in trials.

On pricing of the Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine, Poonawalla said, “We are in conversation with the government regarding the pricing. We are certain that it will be affordable for all.”

Serum Institute of India aims to initially manufacture about 60-70 million doses, and stretch it up to 100 million doses of the vaccine per month, CEO said adding, “we should be able to reach there over the next few months.” 

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