Serum Institute of India, AstraZeneca’s strategic manufacturing partner for the jab in India, said efficacy data from the Indian trials will be released in a month and the company will apply for emergency use by December end. The company said it will have 100 million doses ready by end of next month and these will be made available to the government for an early rollout. It has the capacity to ramp up production to 400 million doses by April 2021. It had earlier said it would price the vaccine at $2 a shot.
A government official said Serum Institute will get approval to introduce the vaccine once it submits its data, and market authorisation is granted by the regulatory authority in UK for the AstraZeneca shot.
As ET had reported earlier, the AstraZeneca shot is one of India’s best hopes for an early vaccine. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna’s jab that have shown encouraging results, the AstraZeneca shot can be stored in a fridge at 3-8 degrees Celsius and won’t require a super cold storage chain. In addition, phase-3 trials of the vaccine have been conducted by Serum Institute in the country.
The AstraZeneca shot was 90% effective when half a dose was administered initially, followed by a full dose 30 days later. The efficacy level fell to 63% when trial participants were given a full dose, followed by another full dose 30 days later. The average efficacy for the trials conducted in UK and Brazil was 70%. International regulatory bodies such as USDFA require 50% effectiveness.
More People can be Vaccinated
“Phase-3 trials of the Covishield vaccine are still ongoing across the country, and the interim data show promising results. We will be applying for emergency use licence very soon and hope to get it a month or so,” Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla told ET. Covishield has been developed at the Serum Institute’s Pune laboratory with a master seed from the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine.
Addressing a press conference, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said Serum Institute has the capacity to manufacture up to 400 million doses by the first quarter of 2021. The Indian company is also supposed to supply this vaccine for low- and middle-income countries, as part of the WHO COVAX facility.
An initial half-a-dose regimen, which has shown better results, will mean more people can be vaccinated with the same amount of supplies.
India has the highest number of Covid cases in the world after the US and around 1.3 lakh people have lost their lives due to the infection. The pandemic has severely disrupted economic activity in the country and the IMF has projected that the Indian economy will contract by 10.3% in 2020-21. Like the rest of the world, the vaccine is the country’s best bet to tame the pandemic and return to normalcy.
The government has been preparing for what will eventually be a vast, complex effort to vaccinate the entire population. While doctors and other healthcare workers will be the first group to be vaccinated, the 65-plus population is expected to be next.
“Prioritisation is happening based on WHO and CDC guidelines. States are preparing lists, identifying the vulnerable and people who are exposed to the virus,” said a government official.
AIIMS director Randeep Guleria, who is a member of the national task force on Covid, said it will take a long time to inoculate everyone in the country. “In the beginning we will never have enough vaccines. That’s why the government is making a priority list. The vaccines will continue to be rolled out over the next year or maybe longer. It is going to be a long-drawn process. It’s not that at the beginning of next year we will vaccinate everyone,” he said.
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6 Comments on this Story
sonykuty Sundaramoorthy60 days ago
This is what is called Appropriate Technology (AT). If European efforts are requiring to preserve the vaccine at 3 to 8 deg C, IT WILL REQUIRE HEATING and will alter the chemical equilibria of the vaccine. Unfortunately, investment in such AT in manufacturing sector in life sciences has not been encouraging in the recent decades. Is it a question of prevention by vested interests abroad? Needs to be introspected
mohana madiraju61 days ago
Well itâ s good that many countries have joined hands for developing vaccine instead of going for â vaccine nationalismâ like Russia. WHO and CDC guidelines will set international standards for the vaccine. And since itâ s a vaccine thatâ s critical to life, itâ s important to have rigorous safety evaluation. And yes, Indiaâ s cold storage facility can only hold up to certain temperatures. So the vaccine should be developed accordingly. And for all those who think India is just playing runner up, I guess itâ s no time to feel national superiority at the moment. Letâ s put life above all our presuppositions.
aditya dhaka61 days ago
Heemanshu it is called interdependency.