Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said the company was hoping to launch the Covovax coronavirus vaccine by June. The Serum Institute and the Indian Council of Medical Research have collaborated to manufacture Covovax, which is developed by United States vaccine company Novavax.
“Our partnership for a Covid-19 vaccine with Novavax has also published excellent efficacy results,” Poonawalla tweeted. “We have also applied to start trials in India. Hope to launch #COVOVAX by June 2021!”
Earlier this week, the Serum Institute sought the Drugs Controller General of India’s approval to conduct a small domestic trial of the Covovax. The vaccine has been found to be 89.3% effective in a trial conducted in the United Kingdom.
The bridging trial will determine if the vaccine is safe and generates an immune response among Indian citizens, whose genetic structure can be different from people in western countires. However, there are provisions under rules to waive such trials in certain conditions.
The Serum Institute is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. In July, Novavax had signed a deal with the Serum Institute to produce 2 billion (200 crore) doses of coronavirus vaccines. Earlier this month, Poonawalla told Reuters that his company would manufacture the Novavax vaccine “upwards of 40-50 million [4-5 crore] doses per month” from around April.
The Serum Institute is already bulk producing a coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The vaccine, Covishield, is one of the two approved by Indian authorities for emergency use. Over 35 lakh people have so far been inoculated in India so far, in the vaccination process that began on January 16.
Meanwhile, India on Saturday reported 13,083 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,07,33,131. The country’s toll rose by 137 to 1,54,147. More than 1.04 crore people in the country have recovered from the infection, while the number of active cases stand at 1,69,824. India’s recovery rate is now 96.98%.