India may get preference in delivery of Oxford vaccine against COVID-19: Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla

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By January next year, there would be at least 100 million (10 crore) doses of COVID-19 in the country, according to Poonawalla

Pune-based pharma major Serum Institute of India has said that India may be given preference in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccine being jointly developed by University of Oxford and UK-based pharma company AstraZeneca, said a news report.

The Serum Institute already partnered with AstraZeneca, the Gates Foundation and the Gavi vaccine alliance to produce more than a billion doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for global supply.

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, said the pharma company has manufactured 40 million doses of the vaccine so far, reported Mint.

By January next year, there would be at least 100 million (10 crore) doses in the country, Poonawalla was quoted as saying in the report.

"Most of that 90 percent is what's going to go to the government of India and maybe 10 percent in the private market at the higher price (of 1,000 rupees)," he said.

About 90 percent of Serum Institute's vaccine is expected to be sold to the government at around Rs 250, the company said.

On Monday, AstraZeneca said that its COVID-19 vaccine could be around 90 percent effective reviving hopes to fight the global pandemic. The vaccine is reportedly cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals. The combined analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70 percent.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University said that their drug had proved on average 70 percent effective at stopping the virus after trying it on 23,000 people.

The Oxford drug can be transported easily at normal refrigerator temperatures -- unlike some of the other candidates, which require extremely cold storage.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reassured that the government is keeping a close watch on the development of vaccines and is in contact with Indian developers and manufacturers, along with global regulators, governments of other countries, multilateral institutions and international companies.

Addressing the chief ministers of eight states including Kerala on Tuesday, he said that it will be ensured that the vaccine for citizens will meet all necessary scientific criteria.

Modi underlined that just like the focus in the fight against COVID has been on saving each and every life, the priority will be to ensure that the vaccine reaches everyone.

“Governments at all levels will have to work together to ensure that the vaccination drive is smooth, systematic and sustained,” said the prime minister.

Prime minister noted that the priority of vaccination is being decided in consultation with the States. The requirements of additional cold chain storages has also been discussed with the States. He asked the Chief Ministers to ensure regular monitoring of State Level Steering Committee and State & District Level Task Force to ensure better results.

Image credit: File photo

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