Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive officer of the Serum Institute of India, on Saturday asked if the government had the funds to procure coronavirus vaccines to inoculate the whole population. The Serum Institute of India is conducting Phase 3 trials of a vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
“Quick question: will the Government of India have 80,000 crores available over the next one year?” Poonawalla asked. “Because that is what the Ministry of Health needs to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle.”
Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest vaccine maker by the number of doses produced. Poonawalla said there was a need to plan and guide vaccine manufacturers both in India and abroad for the purposes of procurement and distribution of the vaccine.
Apart from the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Serum Institute of India is also conducting trials of vaccines from other companies. United States biotech firm Codagenix Inc said on September 22 that Serum Institute of India has started manufacturing its potential Covid-19 vaccine, and it expects to begin the early-stage human trial of the vaccine by the end of this year in the United Kingdom. Vaccines from Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, Biological E, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadilla are also set to begin human trials in India.
India’s coronavirus count rose to 59,03,932 on Saturday, as the country reported 85,362 new cases in the last 24 hours. India’s toll rose by 1,089 to 93,379. As many as 48.49 lakh people have recovered from the infection so far. The Indian Council of Medical Research said 13,41,535 samples were tested on Friday.
Over 150 vaccine candidates are being tested around the world, and 38 of them have reached the human trials stage. Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 3.25 crore people and killed 9,89,724, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of worldwide recoveries is more than 2.25 crore.