Pune: Serum Institute may manufacture COVID vaccine by November; half will be available for free to people in India

Share this News:

Pune, 22 July 2020: After the first human trial data of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca was published by Lancet, world’s largest vaccine manufacturer Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said that 50 percent of the vaccines manufactured by his company would be supplied within India and the rest to other countries. Poonawalla said the vaccine would most likely be procured by the government and people would get it for free through vaccination programs.

Poonawalla said that if the vaccine test goes well and the result is favourable, the Serum Institute of India will develop the vaccine as a partner of Oxford University. “We are seeking regulatory approval for conducting human trials of the Oxford University vaccine called ‘Covishield’ in phases, so that the vaccine can be produced in large quantities if the results are favourable. In the next 48 hours, we will apply to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). If all goes well, the vaccine will be manufactured by November”, Poonawalla said.

He said that if the tests and results go ahead as planned, the SII would be able to produce a few million doses of the vaccine by November-December and around 400-400 million doses for mass usage in the first quarter of 2021. Each dose contains 10 vials.

“We have said that we want to give half of our (vaccine) production every month to India and the other half to other nations on a pro-rata basis. The government is supportive. We need to understand that this is a global crisis and people around the world need to be protected”, Poonawalla said.

When asked who would get the vaccine in the first batch, Poonawalla said it was up to the government to decide who needed the vaccine the most. “The ethical way to distribute the vaccine is for the elderly and the immuno-compromised (who are the most vulnerable) to get first, with the health workers. Healthy adults can get the vaccine later”, he said.

Talking about the price factor of this vaccine (if it is brought to the market), Poonawalla said that it will be too early to comment on the price of each dose of this vaccine. “We are planning to keep the price at around Rs 1000 or less. People won’t have to pay as governments will buy for free distribution through vaccination programs”, Poonawalla said.