Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), which is in the final phase of developing a COVID-19 vaccine licensed from AstraZeneca, says it will get ready with 60-70 million doses by December.
"As far as Serum Institute is concerned, we will be ready with 60-70 million dosages of vaccines by December 2020, but that will come in the market in 2021 after the clearance of licensing. Thereafter, we will produce more and more dosages with the permission of the government," said Dr Suresh Jadav, Executive Director, SII said. He was speaking at the India Vaccine Accessibility e-Summit HEAL-Thy Samvaad, organised by HEAL Foundation, a healthcare advocacy NGO.
India may get COVID-19 vaccine by March 2021 provided the regulators signal with the processes fast as multiple manufacturers are working on it, and already two are in phase-3 trial and one in the phase-2 trial. "India can produce 700-800 million vaccine dosages every year once the things are streamlined. Although 55 per cent of the population is below 50 years of age, as per the availability of vaccines, healthcare workers should get the vaccines first, then people over 60 years of age with co-morbidities followed by the rest of the populace," said the executive.
Dr J L Meena, Joint Director, National Health Authority (NHA) said the biggest challenge lies in its accessibility. The mechanism of the supply chain should also be redefined so that the distribution turns out equitably. "For this, we need to prioritise the accessibility depending upon the vulnerability of the populace and taking some strong action within the time limit," he said.
Samir Deb, a senior pharmaceutical and vaccine expert said the COVID-19 crisis requires accelerated pathways for vaccine development. Proven success factors of H1N1 and Ebola has turned out as guiding principles in COVID-19 vaccine development. "Union Health Minister has asserted that 400 million vaccines will be made available by next year. Hopefully, 20-25 crore population will get the vaccine by next year. Ensuring accessibility for 80 per cent of the population is a huge task," he noted.