It’s not just India, but several countries are in line for the Covishield vaccine from Serum Institute of India (SII). Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, SII, outlines what lies ahead. Serum has a production and distribution alliance for the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. Excerpts:
Has the Centre got in touch with SII to procure the vaccine?
We are in touch with the government for the vaccine’s procurement. Initially, we will supply 10 million doses. We will get more clarity over the next few days.
Are you also looking to launch in the private market simultaneously?
We will start rolling out the vaccine in the private market post the Government’s approval. Optimistically, by April or May we should be able to launch in the private market.
Is production presently up to 100 million? And will the entire 50 million go to the Indian market?
As mentioned earlier, initially, we will supply around 10 million doses and for the rest, we will get clarity in the coming days. We will have a monthly capacity of 100 million doses by March.
You had indicated there could be shortages in production. Is that in India or globally? Are you talking to other companies to sub-contract?
Ensuring that each and every person around the world receives equitable access to a safe, viable, and immunogenic vaccine is a mammoth task.
Given the urgency and the massive demand of the population, we must be prepared for an initial shortage globally.
You also have Bangladesh, Nepal, etc., reaching out for the vaccine. Will this be a sale to their governments or through the GAVI alliance?
Our priority list will see us cater to the Indian market first, then the (World Health Organization supported) COVAX countries, and post that countries with whom we have bilateral partnerships such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, etc.
Are you going to undertake trials on other dosages that show better efficacy with this vaccine?
We have proven in our trials that we have a 100 per cent efficacy on hospitalisation, implying that zero hospitalisations were found in the people who took the Covishield vaccine. The efficacy results of the vaccine will be around 90 per cent if it is administered in two full doses within a gap of 2-3 months.
When will Phase 3 trials end and what have the Indian trials shown thus far?
Volunteers who participated in the trials have received both doses and the results are encouraging.