Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla on Thursday said that India can expect a coronavirus vaccine by December or early next year, the Hindustan Times reported.
“Never did I dream that we at the Serum Institute of India would have a good vaccine developed by this year-end with all regulatory approvals in place,” Poonawalla said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. “If everything goes according to plan, January-February 2021 is our deadline for making the vaccine available to frontline workers and to the general public by March, April next year.”
Poonawalla said the vaccine would cost Rs 500 to Rs 600 for the public. “It will probably end up being around $5-6 [Rs 370-450] a dose with an MRP [Maximum Retail Price] of Rs 1,000,” he said. “Of course, the government of India would be getting it at a far cheaper price, probably around $3-4 [Rs 220-300] because there would be high it in large doses – 100 of millions of doses. So, they will get access to a price, which is similar to what Covax has got...and the general public as I mentioned will have to pay around Rs 500-600.”
He said that the vaccine would first be given to frontline workers, health officials and elderly people who are more vulnerable, adding that if the timeline is not delayed, the general public could get inoculated by March to April 2021. Poonawalla said at least 50% of the vaccine manufactured would go to Indian citizens and indicated that the Serum Institute of India plans to roll out over about 100 million doses by February.
He said that his company was in talks with Bangladesh, Nepal and a few African countries for the vaccine but no deals have been signed with any country other than Bangladesh as yet. “We don’t want to partner with many other countries and form bilaterals because we won’t have enough stock to give.”
The Serum Institute of India CEO also spoke about adding two more manufacturing facilities to allow the company to roll out 100 million doses.
Earlier this week, data published in medical journal The Lancet has shown that the potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Oxford University and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca produced strong immune responses in older adults. The Serum Institute of India is under agreement with AstraZeneca to produce at least 1 billion (100 crore) doses. Poonawalla on October 12 said his company was planning to produce at least 100 million (10 crore) Oxford vaccine doses by December. He said that the Serum Institute may also get emergency use authorisation, provided the result of the final-stage trial of the vaccine is encouraging.
The Indian Council of Medical Research and the Serum Institute of India on November 12 said their vaccine candidate, Covishield, could be a realistic solution to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a statement, the Serum Institute of India said it has already manufactured 40 million, or 4 crore, doses of the vaccine “under the at-risk manufacturing and stockpiling license” from the Drugs Controller General of India.
Further, the ICMR and Serum Institute of India have also collaborated to manufacture Covovax, which was developed by US-based vaccine company Novavax.
Meanwhile, India recorded 45,576 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the country’s total to 89,58,483. The toll rose to 1,31,578 with 585 more deaths. The number of active cases stood at 4,43,303. As many as 83,83,602 people have recovered from the disease so far.