Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine producer by volume, which has applied to the DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) for emergency use authorisation (EUA) of its coronavirus vaccine, is also close to inking a deal with the Centre.
The Pune-based company is likely to sign a supply contract with the central government, under which the price of the COVID-19 vaccine may be fixed at Rs 250 per dose. Confirming the talks to be in the final stages, a source told Business Standard that "talks for signing a supply contract" have reached the last leg and "could be done soon."
Although there is not much clarity on the number of doses that would be secured from the Serum Institute, sources suggest that approximately 60 million could be made available soon. The company is likely to have around 100 million doses for the government by January-February (2021), if the Centre chooses to procure, the report added.
Serum Institute's CEO Adar Poonawalla said in a Twitter message on Monday, December 8, "As promised, before the end of 2020, @SerumInstIndia has applied for emergency use authorisation for the first made-in-India vaccine, Covishield. This will save countless lives, and I thank the Government of India and Sri @narendramodi ji for their invaluable support."
As promised, before the end of 2020, @SerumInstIndia has applied for emergency use authorisation for the first made-in-India vaccine, COVISHIELD. This will save countless lives, and I thank the Government of India and Sri @narendramodi ji for their invaluable support.— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) December 7, 2020
Meanwhile, there is still time before the company can begin supplying the coronavirus vaccine to the low-and-middle-income nations through Gavi, the vaccine alliance through public-private global health partnership, a source told the publication, adding that till then, SII can "supply to India and meet the first phase requirement of the government."
Thus far, the company has around 40 million doses ready, however, the demand is huge. The Serum Institute has to supply 200 million doses of Covishield and Novavax vaccine candidate to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi at Rs 250 or $3 per dose for 2021 to be distributed in the low-and-middle-income nations. The company will supply 1 billion doses to AstraZeneca as well, of which approximately 50 per cent will be for India.
Meanwhile, the Centre has indicated that it would need 60 million doses to vaccinate 30 million people on its priority list, which will comprise healthcare and frontline essential services workers such as public transport operators, municipality staff etc.
This would subsequently be expanded to cover the vulnerable population who have grave co-morbidities, followed by people above 50 years of age. The vaccine will also be sold in the open market by March-April but at a higher price. Poonawalla has indicated a price of approximately Rs 500-600 per dose.