Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said that his firm will apply for emergency use authorisation for its coronavirus vaccine candidate Covishield in the next two weeks.
Poonwalla made the remark at a press conference, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to his facility to review vaccine development efforts.
The Serum institute CEO also said that his firm had not yet signed a written agreement with the Centre about the vaccine. “As of now, we don’t have anything in writing with the government of India on how many doses they will purchase, but the indication is that it would be 300-400 million [30 to 40 crore] doses by July, 2021,” he said.
Poonwalla said that the vaccine will initially be distributed in India, after which the firm will move on to the countries covered under the World Health Organization-backed global initiative COVAX. “The UK [United Kingdom] and European markets are being taken care of by AstraZeneca and Oxford,” he was quoted as saying by ANI. “Our priority is India & COVAX countries.”
Earlier in the day, PM Modi visited the Serum Institute of India in Pune, Bharat Biotech’s facility in Hyderabad and Zydus Cadila in Ahmedabad to review the vaccine development efforts.
The Serum Institute has tied up with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University to produce a vaccine in India. The vaccine is seen as offering one of the best hopes for many developing countries because of its cheaper price and ability to be transported and stored at normal temperatures.
India has not signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine yet so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country. Availability of the vaccine in India will be subject to approval by domestic regulators, and the Indian government agreeing to purchase them. So far, many other nations including the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia and Israel have made deals to buy millions of doses of the vaccine.
India recorded 41,322 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the country’s total to 93,51,109. The toll rose to 1,36,200 with 485 more deaths, while the number of active cases stood at 4,54,940. So far, 87,59,969 people have recovered from the disease in the country.