The Serum Institute of India on Sunday dismissed reports that it would be able to commercialise the coronavirus vaccine in 73 days, and said the claims around its availability were completely “false and conjectural”. In a statement, the institute clarified that the government had granted it permission to only manufacture the vaccine and stockpile it for future use.
The vaccine – known as Covishield in India – was developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca. The Pune-based Serum Institute, which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, is conducting Phase-3 trials of the vaccine candidate in India in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research.
The manufacturer further clarified that Covishield would be commercialised once the trials are proven successful and all the requisite regulatory approvals are in place.
On August 11, Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla had said India should have a vaccine against the coronavirus by the end of 2020. He added that the final price of Covaxin would be announced in two months.
The Serum Institute of India has already received an approval from the Drug Controller General of India to conduct phase two and three human clinical trials of the vaccine candidate. The firm had earlier said that around 5,000 people in Pune and Mumbai would 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 the Christian Medical College in Vellore.
Earlier this month, Serum Institute of India entered into a partnership with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for India and other low and middle-income countries.