India may get COVID-19 vaccine by March 2021: SII official
India may get a vaccine for COVID-19 by March 2021, the Executive Director of the Serum Institute of India (SII) has said. The SII is testing the vaccine developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca in India. According to SII's Dr. Suresh Jadhav, India is heading fast toward vaccine development, with two manufacturers in Phase III trials and one in Phase II trials.
Dr. Jadhav was speaking at India Vaccine Accessibility e-Summit
According to The Indian Express, Dr. Jadhav said India may have a vaccine ready by March, provided the regulators signal with the processes fast, as multiple manufacturers are working on it. "The WHO has also taken initiative to make the process fast and easy," said Dr. Jadhav, who was speaking at the India Vaccine Accessibility e-Summit organized by HEAL Foundation in association with ICCIDD.
'We can produce 700-800 million vaccine doses every year'
Dr. Jadhav said, "We can produce 700-800 million vaccine doses every year once things are streamlined." On prioritizing access to vaccines, he said, "Although 55% of the population is below 50 years of age, as per availability of vaccines healthcare workers should get the vaccines first, then people over 60 years with comorbidities, followed by the rest of the populace."
'SII to have 60-70 million vaccine doses ready by December'
Further, Dr. Jadhav said, "We (SII) will be ready with 60-70 million dosages of vaccines by December 2020, but that will come in the market in 2021 after the clearance of licensing. Thereafter, we will produce more and more dosages, with the government's permission."
Vaccine should be ready by 2021's second quarter: WHO official
Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said a vaccine should be ready by the second quarter of 2021, noting that there are "ups and downs in any vaccine clinical trial." Dr. Swaminathan told TIE, "By January 2021 we should be able to see results, and by the second quarter of 2021 the vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 should be ready."
'Herd immunity should only be discussed in context of vaccines'
Speaking to TIE about herd immunity, Dr. Swaminathan said that the concept should only be discussed within the context of a vaccine. She said, once a vaccine is ready, we can aim to attain herd immunity by vaccinating at least 70% of the people.
India has reported 74.3 lakh cases, 1.12 lakh deaths
As of 8 am on Saturday, India reported a total of 74,32,680 COVID-19 cases, after registering 62,212 new cases in the past 24 hours. The total cases include 7,95,087 active cases and 65,24,595 recoveries. The death toll climbed to 1,12,998 with the addition of 837 more fatalities. Although India remains the world's second worst-hit country, the outbreak's pace has been slowing down.