The chief executive officer of the Serum Institute of India, which is the local maker of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca, on Monday said that he expected the Indian government to approve shots for emergency use within a few days, ANI reported. Adar Poonawalla told reporters that they have already made 40 million to 50 million doses of the vaccine.
“We have 40 million-50 million doses of Covishield stockpiled,” Poonawalla said during an online media interaction. “Once we get regulatory approvals in a few days, it’ll be down to the government to decide how much they can take and how fast. We will be producing around 300 million doses by July 2021.”
Poonawalla said that there were no concerns regarding the vaccine candidate and that drug regulators were evaluating the data. “92% to 95% efficacy is there,” he said. “Emergency use of vaccine may come in the end of December or maybe in January in the UK and we are hoping the same for India as well. We should wait for some good news.”
The chief executive officer said that India is part of the COVAX programme, which is backed by the World Health Organization and seeks to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines. “We will keep giving 50% of everything we make to India and to COVAX at the same time,” he added. “India has such a large population that we will probably end up giving the majority of those 50 million doses to India first.”
Poonawalla also stated that the first six months of 2021 will see a vaccine shortage globally. “Nobody can help that. But we will be easing off by August-September 2021 as other manufacturers will also be able to supply.”
India has recorded 1,02,07,871 coronavirus cases so far, the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world after the United States. The toll stood at 1,47,901.
On Monday, the Centre began a trial run of coronavirus vaccine delivery systems, with authorities in four states assessing technology platforms to the storage infrastructure that will be required to inoculate millions of citizens.
The government has not signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine yet so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country. The final call on the efficacy of a vaccine will be taken by the Drugs Controller General of India. Several countries such as the US, the United Kingdom, Russia and China have already begun vaccination.