As parts of the world roll-out the Covid-19 vaccine, India launched an indigenously developed pneumococcal vaccine that would be priced at a fraction of its competitors in the local market.
The pneumococcal vaccine can now be accessible to more children across the country, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said, unlike earlier when it was dependent on products from international companies. Drug-majors Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline presently sell the product in India.
The indigenous vaccine from Serum Institute of India would be priced at half that of the existing ones sold in the country, said Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive of the company. It would be priced at $3 for a dose, and involved three doses, he said. The vaccine development involved a collaboration of over eight years, along with PATH and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he said, adding that it was tailored to protect against 6A and 19A strains prevalent in India. In the private retail market it would be priced over $10 a dose, he indicated.
Since there is no Covid-19 vaccine for children, the pneumococcal vaccine for children assumes added significance, a company official said.
Covid vaccine race
Meanwhile, Poonawalla indicated that the AstraZeneca-Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine would receive its license in India by January. Positive news was expected from the UK shortly, he said.
Serum Institute has a production and marketing alliance with the AZ-Oxford combine for low and middle income countries. The Indian vaccine maker already has about 50 million doses ready and was making more every week, he said, adding nevertheless that the early 2021 would see global production shortages that would subsequently ease as more players get into the fray.
Additional data required for the emergency approvals from the Indian regulator had been handed in, he said, adding that procurement etc depended on the government. There was no concern with the vaccine, he said, adding that the regulator was reviewing the data from other countries as well. In India, a volunteer on the vaccine trial had reported a serious adverse event that he said was linked to the vaccine, something the company denies.
Serum has two other Covid-19 vaccine candidates in the kitty from collaborations with Codagenix Inc and Spybiotech that are in early trial stages, Poonawalla said.