Oxford Covid-19 vaccine: Serum Institute to apply for emergency authorisation in 2 weeks

University of Oxford and AstraZeneca on Monday said that their Covid-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective in late-stage clinical trials.
By Yogesh Joshi | Edited by Sparshita Saxena | Hindustan Times, Pune
UPDATED ON NOV 28, 2020 08:43 PM IST
Image for representation.(AFP)

The Serum Institute of India (SII) will apply for emergency license of Covid-19 vaccine in the next two weeks, said chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters through virtual press conference minutes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to SII’s facility in Pune on Saturday, Poonawalla said, the vaccine, post-authorization, will initially be distributed in India and then to African countries.

“We are in process of applying for emergency licensing in the next two weeks. We will have to wait and see when we get the authorisation,” said Poonawalla while responding to a question on Covishield vaccine’s distribution in the country.

“The vaccine will be distributed initially in India and then we will look at COVAX countries which are mainly in Africa. The United Kingdom and European markets are being taken care of by AstraZeneca and Oxford. If they need our help for scaling up production capacity, we are always there to support them.”

The SII, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has signed an agreement to manufacture the vaccine developed by the Jenner Institute of Oxford University in collaboration with British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca.

University of Oxford and AstraZeneca on Monday said that their Covid-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective in late-stage clinical trials, raising hopes for the arrival of shots in India by the end of the year.

Also read: PM Modi reviews Covid-19 vaccine progress in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune

According to Poonawalla, the Covishiled vaccine has proved effective during trials. “What we found in Covishield during trials globally was that there was zero hospitalisation and 60 per cent reduction in sterilizing immunity.”

Poonawala said during PM Modi’s visit to the manufacturing facility at SII, various issues about pricing and logistics as well as pros and cons of other vaccine candidates were discussed.

The SII is currently producing 50-60 million doses per month and plans to scale up to 100 million doses by January next year.

“We are producing 50 to 60 million doses per month and post-January, it will be scaled up to 100 million doses a month. We have built the largest pandemic-level facility in Pune and our new campus in Mandri. That was also showcased to the PM with a tour around the facility and a lot of detailed discussions,” Poonawalla further mentioned.

On signing any deal with the government of India, Poonawalla said there has been no contract signed with centre yet.

“As of now, we don’t have anything in writing on how many doses they will purchase but as indicated by the health ministry, they would need 300-400 million doses by July 2021,” said the SII CEO.

Poonawala also claimed the Oxford drug can be transported easily at normal refrigerator temperatures, unlike some of the other candidates which require extreme cold storage.

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