The coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University and British firm AstraZeneca could be ready for public use in December 2020, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) chief executive Adar Poonawalla has said. The Serum Institute is currently conducting the phase-3 trial of Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine in India.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said if the company will not go for an emergency licence, the vaccine will be ready by December.
"Maybe we can launch in India in January subject to the UK trial also being completed which it's on the verge on being completed," Poonawalla said during an interview with Poonawalla.
He also said the UK in the next two to three weeks will share the data and if it says the vaccine is safe, Serum Institute will apply for an emergency licence before the Indian regulator.
Poonawalla said the first batch of 100 million doses of 'Covidshield' should be available by the second or third quarter of 2021.
The 39-year-old CEO claimed there was no immediate concern about the safety of the Oxford vaccine, adding that early indicators have been positive. However, Poonawalla said it will take a year or two to be certain that the vaccine has long-term effects.
He said the Oxford vaccine will be a two-dose vaccine. The gap between the two doses will be 28 days.
On the price of the vaccine, Poonawalla said it will be affordable. "It is going to be way cheaper than even a test - an RTPCR test today or a rapid antigen test. The government will take most of that load on, financially, and that conversation is going on very well as well," Poonawalla told NDTV.
This week, Poonawalla informed via Twitter that the Oxford coronavirus vaccine has produced a robust immune response in older and elderly and those at high risk of severe illness. Poonawalla's announcement became a ray of hope amid the pandemic because the immune system weakens with age and older people are those most at risk of dying from the virus.
It is anticipated that the Oxford vaccine will be one of the first to secure regulatory approval, along with US-based Pfizer and Moderna Inc's candidates as the world tries to plot out a path out of the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 150 potential vaccines are being developed and tested globally, with 38 in human trials. Early development of vaccine will be a game-changer in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 1.15 million people around the planet and turned lives upside down for billions of people.