Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla on Monday said India should have a vaccine against the novel coronavirus by the end of 2020, reported CNBC-TV18. He added that the final pricing of the vaccine – known as Covishield in India – developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca will be announced in two months.
The Pune-based firm, which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, is expected to start trials of the vaccine candidate soon in India in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research. “We should have a vaccine by the end of this year,” Poonawalla told CNBC-TV18. “We will conduct trials in India on a few thousand patients in partnership with the ICMR.” Earlier, Poonawalla had said the company plans to manufacture 300 million to 400 million doses by the end of the year.
The Serum Institute of India had already received an approval from the Drug Controller General of India to conduct phase two and three human clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccine candidate. The firm had earlier said that around 5,000 people in Pune and Mumbai will be administered the vaccine by the end of August as part of the trials. The trials will last over two months.
Last month, the Centre identified five sites across the country for the third and final phase of the human trials of the vaccine. The five sites selected by the government were INCLEN Trust International in Palwal, Haryana, KEM Hospital in Pune, the Society for Health Allied Research in Hyderabad, the National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai, and Christian Medical College in Vellore.
Earlier, Poonawalla had said that the Oxford vaccine will be priced at maximum US$ 3 (approximately Rs 225) per dose in low and middle-income countries. Oxford’s vaccine, called AZD1222, had produced an immune response against the coronavirus and proved to be 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.
Last week, the Serum Institute entered a deal with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to speed up the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of future Covid-19 vaccines for India and low and middle-income countries in 2021.