Serum Institute researching on 2 Covid-19 vaccines candidates, says Adar Poonawalla

The SII CEO says considering the high demand for vaccines in the wake of coronavirus, the next decade could be a "golden one" for the entire vaccine industry

SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla

Serum Institute of India (SII) chief executive Adar Poonawalla has said the vaccine maker, apart from tying-up with five COVID-19 vaccine candidates for production, is also researching on two vaccine candidates on its own. The world's largest vaccine maker by volume, SII has already manufactured 50 million doses of Covishield vaccine, being developed with the Oxford University and AstraZeneca, on at-risk funding. Overall, the vaccine giants aim to develop 3.2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines at its facilities.

"We are also researching two candidates for the Coronavirus vaccine and will be able to share more information on this later," Business Standard quoted Poonawalla as saying.

He said apart from AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, SII has partnered with Novavax and Codagenix candidates. Both of them are expected aiming regulatory approval by 2021.

Also read: Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine: No trials, no supply commitment major drawback

The SII CEO said considering the high demand for vaccines in the wake of coronavirus, the next decade could be a "golden one" for the entire vaccine industry.

SII has dedicated two of its facilities to produce Covid-19 vaccines. The company has also taken steps to ensure the supply of other vaccines is not interuppted due to this, he told the daily.

Poonawalla said the company has invested about $570 million in developing Covid-19 vaccines, including around $300 million funding from the collaboration of Serum, Gavi, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The SII SEO said the vaccine maker had to defer some other vaccine development plans considering the unprecedented situation. He said the world will take around two-three years to vaccinate the entire population.'

Also read: 'Serum won't have to take full loss' if Covid vaccine not approved: Bill Gates on sharing risk

Serum is manufacturing one of the top three vaccine candidates in India and is ready for rollout as soon as it receives a green signal from the drug regulatory authority. It is also working with the government to prepare a distribution plan in India.

SII-Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine candidate, Covishield, has shown an efficacy level of 70.4 per cent, and up to 90 per cent at two-dose regimens. Covishield can be stored at fridge temp and deployed quickly using existing infrastructure.

Not only India but vaccine distribution plans of other countries also depend on how soon Covishield is rolled out in India; SII and AstraZeneca aim to distribute it to other low and middle-income countries too.

Besides Serum, Pfizer India and Bharat Biotech have also applied for emergency clearance in India. India plans to start the world's biggest mass inoculation drive in January. The country has plans to vaccinate 30 crore people by July in the first phase, say industry observers. The government claims it has assessed the present requirement of vaccines and is working towards augmenting capacities.