Can launch 100 million vaccine doses by January-February, says Poonawalla
The CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), Adar Poonawalla, has said that the institute can roll out 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by January-February. The SII has partnered with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for manufacturing their vaccine candidate, AZD1222, in India. Earlier in the day, AstraZeneca had said that AZD1222 has an average efficiency of 70%.
'At least 100 million doses will be available by January'
Speaking to NDTV, Poonawalla said that a minimum of 100 million doses of the vaccine—to be sold as "Covishield" in India—will be available by January and hundreds of millions could be ready by the end of February. He said 40 million doses have already been produced, adding that the central government would buy each dose for Rs. 250 or less.
Doses to be priced at Rs. 500-600
In an earlier interview, Poonawalla had said that the first 100 million doses would be ready by December. This initial batch will go to India and will be used to vaccinate the vulnerable and frontline workers, he had said. In another interview last week, he said the general public would get doses by April 2021, possibly at a cost of Rs. 500-600.
Vaccine has average 70% efficacy; can be 90% effective
The vaccine has been made from a weakened, genetically-modified version of a common cold virus, or adenovirus, that causes infections in chimpanzees, but cannot grow in the human body. AstraZeneca announced on Monday that the vaccine showed 90% and 62% efficacy in two dosing regimens, reflecting an average efficacy of 70%. Poonawalla told NDTV that these results were "encouraging."
Moderna, Pfizer's vaccines are 95% effective
Before AstraZeneca's announcement, pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer had announced that their vaccines are 94.5% and 95% effective respectively. However, Covishield is cheaper than the other two candidates. Notably, it can also be transported and stored at refrigerator temperatures, making it easier to be distributed, especially in poorer countries. Oxford's vaccine group director, Andrew Pollard, declared, "We have a vaccine for the world."
How bad is the outbreak in India?
As of 8 am on Monday, India reported a total of 91,39,865 COVID-19 cases, after registering 44,059 new cases in the past 24 hours. The total cases include 4,43,486 active cases and 85,62,641 recoveries. The death toll climbed to 1,33,738 with the addition of 511 more fatalities. Although India remains the world's second worst-hit country, the outbreak's pace has slowed down.