The Serum Institute of India on Monday said it will apply for a licence to start clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccine developed at Oxford University, PTI reported.

The Pune firm is the world’s largest vaccine maker in terms of the number of doses produced and sold globally. It has partnered with biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to mass produce the Oxford vaccine. India is among the largest manufacturer of generic drugs and vaccines in the world.

The vaccine, called AZD1222, produced an immune response and was safe in early-stage clinical trials, according to trial results published in The Lancet medical journal. The Oxford vaccine prompted an antibody response within 28 days and a T-cell response within 14 days. Neutralising antibodies, which can disable the virus, were detected in most participants after one shot, and in all of them after two.

“The trials have shown promising results and we are extremely happy about it,” said Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India. “We will be applying for the licensure trials to the Indian regulator in a week’s time. As soon as they grant us permission, we will begin with the trials for the vaccine in India. In addition, we will soon start manufacturing the vaccine in large volumes.”

Poonawalla told Hindustan Times that they are planning to start trials from next month. “We plan to produce at one billion doses of the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine over the next one year,” he added.

The chief executive officer said these vaccines will be for India and middle and low-income countries across the world.

The Oxford vaccine has been described by the World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan as the leading candidate in a global race to halt a pandemic that has killed more than 6.09 lakh people globally.

United States drugmaker Pfizer and China’s CanSino Biologics also reported positive responses for their coronavirus vaccine candidates on Monday. More than 150 possible vaccines are in various stages of development across the world.

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