India will start COVID-19 vaccine production next month: Details here
In a major development, Cyrus S. Poonawalla's Serum Institute of India has confirmed that it will start making a vaccine for COVID-19 next month. The solution, the institute says, is the candidate vaccine that has been developed by Oxford University researchers and is currently being examined in the human trial phase. Here's all you need to know about it.
The vaccine major, according to a PTI report, has partnered with Oxford University for its vaccine and is planning to begin production in a matter of weeks. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the institute, said, "Our team has been working closely with Dr. Hill from Oxford University, and we are expecting to initiate production of the vaccine in 2-3 weeks."
Detailing the production strategy, the CEO said they plan to manufacture 5 million doses of the vaccine every month for the first six months. After that, the production capacity would be scaled up to 10 million doses to meet the demand for the vaccine. He did not comment on how much people would have to pay for this vaccine.
While the step by SII is significant, it is imperative to note that this is a proactive move and the final availability of the vaccine would directly depend on how the trials pan out. If all goes well and the vaccine is confirmed to be effective and safe, we could see it in the market by September-October. Otherwise, there might be some delays.
"We expect the (COVID-19) vaccine to be out in the market by September - October, only if the trials are successful with the requisite safety and assured efficacy. We will be starting trials in India for this vaccine hopefully over the next 2-3 weeks' time."
The move to start production ahead of trials' conclusion is aimed at having sufficient doses to fight the pandemic. "We have undertaken the decision to initiate manufacturing at our own risk," the CEO emphasized while noting that they wanted "to have a jump-start on manufacturing, to have enough doses available if the clinical trials prove successful."
As of now, SII is working with Indian regulatory authorities, including the ICMR and Department of Biotechnology, to get the necessary approvals for the trials and production of the vaccine. Poonawalla says that they also hope to enlist the support of more industry partners to scale up the production of the vaccine and make it more widely available as soon as possible.