As India awaits the arrival of a vaccine to fight the coronavirus disease (Covud-19), Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tour today to Pune-based Serum Institute of India concluded with the SII CEO Adar Poonawala saying that the institute would apply for emergency use of Covishield in the next two weeks.
“I had had a good interaction with the team at the Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also had a look at their manufacturing facility,” Prime Minister Modi said after the meeting.
Five vaccines are on trial in India. Out of these, Pune-based SII is developing Covishield, which is a collaboration by the Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. This vaccine is currently in a final stage trial in India.
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Poonawala said at the press conference, “We worked with Atmanirbhar India in mind.”
On the question of the Phase III trial of the vaccine, Poonawala said that the SII was in the process of R&D at this stage. He said Prime Minister Modi had a lot of knowledge about vaccines and production. The SII CEO said the main challenge in the coming times would be creating a regulatory framework for the vaccine.
Poonawala said it was not yet decided how many doses the government would buy, but it seemed to him that the Ministry of Health was considering 300 to 400 million doses by July.
Covishield will help reduce mortality too. Hospitalisation after the inoculation would not be required in any case, scientists working on the vaccine say. It will reduce the potency of the virus by 60%. So far in the global trials of Covishield, AstraZeneca-Oxford University has been successful in keeping hospitalisation 0%.
Researchers conducted trials of Covishield in the last phase in two ways. In the first, it was found to be 62% effective while, in the second, it was over 90%.
On an average, the effectiveness of this vaccine has been around 70%. SII executive director Suresh Jadhav recently claimed to have started production of the vaccine.
January onwards, five to six crore vaccines will be made every month. Stocks of eight to 10 crore doses will be ready by January. Supply will be started on getting approval from the government.