Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonwalla on Friday said that India’s coronavirus vaccination drive may start in January if his firm gets emergency use authorisation by the end of December, The Economic Times reported.
Poonawalla was speaking at the The Economic Times Global Business Summit. “By this month-end, we might get an emergency licence, but the actual licence for wider use might come in at a later date,” he said. “But we are confident that if the regulators give a nod, India’s vaccination drive can start by January 2021.”
The Serum Institute CEO added that there will hopefully be enough vaccines for everyone by October next year and life may return to normal. “Once 20% of India gets the coronavirus vaccine, we can hopefully see the confidence and sentiments coming back, and by September-October next year hopefully there will be enough vaccines for everyone and normal life can return,” he said.
The Serum Institute has tied up with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University to produce a vaccine in India. The vaccine has been as one of the prime candidates in the race for a drug against Covid-19.
Poonawalla said that the government wants to buy 300-400 million [30 to 40 crore] doses of the vaccine by July 2021. He added that Serum Institute was preparing to produce enough vaccines for both the government and private markets.
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Apart from Serum Institute, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has applied for emergency use authorisation of its vaccines in India. Reports, citing sources, said pharmaceutical company Pfizer has also applied for emergency use authorisation in India after it received clearance in Britain.
Earlier this week, the government dismissed reports that it had rejected drug manufacturers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s proposals for emergency use authorisation.
Serum Institute’s vaccine candidate ran into a controversy last month after a volunteer from Chennai said he faced “severe adverse effects” due to the trials. The Union health ministry dispelled doubts about the vaccine and said there was no need to stop the trials.
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. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said at an all-party meeting on December 4 that experts believe a coronavirus vaccine could be available in India in the next few weeks.
India registered 30,254 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the tally to 98,57,029, the health The country has reported less than 40,000 cases for 14 consecutive days. India’s toll rose by 391 to 1,43,019.