Affordable COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021, promises SII's Adar Poonawalla
Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India, said that the vaccine against coronavirus will be available in India by January 2021, two months from now, provided that the government gives approvals on time. SII has partnered with UK pharma giant AstraZeneca to mass produce the vaccine being developed by the prestigious University of Oxford. Here's more on what he said.
Success of trials will dictate the future of vaccine
Speaking to Mint, Poonawalla said the availability of the vaccine, obviously, depends on the results from trials. "Based on the success of the trials in India and the United Kingdom, and if approvals from regulatory bodies are in place in time, then we can expect the vaccine to be available in India by January 2021, only if it's proven immunogenic and efficacious," he added.
No concerns related to Covishield so far: Poonawalla
"The current data pertaining to the trials show that there are no immediate concerns pertaining to Covishield (the vaccine). So far, thousands of people have had it in India and abroad with no safety concerns," Poonawalla stressed.
Results from trials gave hope to a ripped apart globe
Oxford's product is being dubbed as the frontrunner in the vaccine race after it was known that its doses provided double protection against the disease by generating virus-attacking T-cells. The vaccine is being tested across 17 sites in India. In phase II, nearly 1,600 participants, aged between 18 to 55, were administered doses. The third stage trials have also started at some sites.
Poonawalla assured the vaccine will be affordable
SII's deal with AstraZeneca positions India in a better place, as it means the country will get the vaccine sooner than others. However, there have been some concerns about the vaccine's cost. When asked about this, Poonawalla said, "We are in conversation with the government regarding the pricing. We are certain that it will be affordable for all."
Does government have Rs. 80,000 crore ready, Poonawalla had asked
However, in September, Poonawalla had asked if the government has Rs. 80,000 crore ready within the next one year for vaccine distribution. "Will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that's what @MoHFW_INDIA needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle," he had tweeted.
We don't agree with Poonawalla's calculation: Centre
Subsequently, the government said it did not agree with Poonawalla's calculation. Asserting that the SII boss clarified his statement soon, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "We do not agree with the calculation of Rs. 80,000 crore." He said Centre formed a National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration to look into all things vaccine related. The body also pondered about the money needed.
Centre claimed it has required amount of money
"We have mulled over process of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the amount required for it in terms of prioritization of population and the staggered immunization for this prioritization. In the meetings, we have calculated the amount required and currently, that amount is available," Bhushan claimed.