Pune, November 28 2020: Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Serum Institute of India (SII) today to review the status of the COVID-19 vaccine ‘COVISHIELD’. The team of the SII along with their CEO Adar Poonawalla interacted with the PM on the status and efficacy of the vaccine amongst other topics.
In a press meeting regarding the discussion of the vaccine along with its distribution in India, Poonawalla addressed the questions in relation to his discussion with the PM. He said that the SII is going to seek permission for the emergency use of ‘COVISHIELD’ in two weeks. They expect approval by the end of the year.
Approximately 50-60 per cent of all vaccines are made in India. Adar Poonawalla said, “With the Atmanirbhar Abhiyan in mind, we have built a facility in Pune to manufacture vaccines in India.” He also said that the PM was impressed with their work in building units and manufacturing vaccines in record time. The SII has even added a new facility and is aiming towards delivering a billion doses in the near future. The SII is currently manufacturing 50-60 million doses per month and is planning to scale up production by January and February.
“In our discussion with the PM, we talked about how and where the distribution of the vaccine will take place. We also discussed the price and affordability of the vaccine in India. It has been indicated by the Health Ministry that they expect 300-400 million doses from us”, said Poonawalla.
The implementation of the plan to administer the vaccine to the citizens in India is still ongoing. The data and all other important studies regarding the result of the trials of the vaccine and its efficacy will be sent to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). It will be the decision of the health ministry to roll out the vaccines in the market.
Efficacy of the vaccine
Poonawalla said that there will be no need for additional trials for COVISHIELD. The results of the current trials are enough to show the efficacy of the vaccine. “We may think about conducting trials for the age group which is under 18 in the coming months”, he added further.
He also said that the result of the vaccine has been positive. “It has been observed globally that after the vaccine was administered to the people, there were zero hospitalizations. The sterilizing immunity was observed to be 60 per cent reduced virus risk”, as informed by him.
Distribution of the vaccine
On asking about the approval and distribution of the vaccine, Poonawalla said, “When the approval is granted, there will be no delay in the distribution of the vaccine as stockpiling and manufacturing is still going on.”
The SII will initially distribute the vaccine in India first and then they will focus on COVAX countries. As far as the distribution of the vaccine is concerned, AstraZeneca will take care of it in the United Kingdom.
The other vaccine by the SII known as NOVAVAX is two months behind the AstraZeneca vaccine. NOVAVAX is following the same protocols as that of COVISHIELD.
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