The Serum Institute will apply within two weeks for an emergency use license of the coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca, the vaccine maker’s chief Adar Poonawalla said on Saturday after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“As of now, we don’t have anything in writing with the government of India on how many doses they will purchase but the indication is that it would be 300-400 million doses by July 2021,” he told reporters. “We are in the process of applying in the next two weeks for the emergency use,” he added.
PM Modi on Saturday visited India’s top vaccine hubs to personally review the development of coronavirus vaccine and the manufacturing process. The visit, PM Modi’s office said, was meant to help him get a “first-hand perspective of the preparations, challenges and roadmap in India’s endeavour to vaccinate its citizens”.
PM Modi began his three-city vaccine tour with a visit to pharma major Zydus Cadila’s plant in Gujarat, then flew to Hyderabad where he visited Bharat BioTech, which is working on Covaxin, and finally proceeded to Pune where Serum Institute of India, which will produce the Oxford vaccine, is based.
Giving the vaccine candidate a major vote of confidence after some experts raised questions around its trial data, Mr Poonawalla said, “At the moment the trials were more than enough for the efficacy. We might look at doing trials on group less than 18 years of age later on.”
“This vaccine is a very good one. What we found with Covishield in its global trial is there were zero hospitalisations, which means even if you do get infected you’re not going to have a severe attack and secondly even those who got the disease were not infecting others,” he said.
Mr Poonawalla’s comments come as a boost to AstraZeneca after some scientists raised doubts about the robustness of results showing the shot was 90 per cent effective in a sub-group of trial participants who, by error initially, received a half dose followed by a full dose.
“We are manufacturing 50-60 million doses per month. After January it will be 100 million doses,” he said.
Earlier at the Serum Institute, PM Modi reviewed the progress of the Covishield vaccine being made there, speaking with scientists and touring the facility.
“Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility,” PM Modi tweeted after his visit.
By: Divyanshu Dutta Roy
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