The COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and British firm AstraZeneca may be available in India by January 2021, chief executive of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) Adar Poonawalla said on Wednesday. The vaccine, dubbed as Covishield for Indian market, is currently undergoing Phase 2 and 3 trials in the country.
"Based on the success of the trials in India and the United Kingdom, and if approvals from regulatory bodies are in place in time, then we can expect the vaccine to be available in India by January 2021, only if its proven immunogenic and efficacious," SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told Mint.
On ongoing clinical trails, the 39-year-old CEO said that the present data indicates that there are no immediate concerns related to Covishield. "So far, thousands of people have had it in India and abroad with no safety concerns," he said.
Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, is currently conducting the Phase 3 trial of Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate in India. It is anticipated that Covishield will be one of the first to secure regulatory approval, along with vaccine candidates from US-based Pfizer and Moderna Inc, as scientists across the world try to find a vaccine against novel coronavirus.
As many as 150 potential vaccines are being developed and tested globally, with 38 in human trial stage. Early development of vaccine will be a game-changer in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed millions of people around the planet and turned lives upside down for billions.
Poonawalla said that his company aims to initially manufacture about 60-70 million doses, and expand it up to 100 million doses of the vaccine per month, adding that "we should be able to reach there over the next few months."
Homegrown pharma company Bharat Biotech is also planning to launch its vaccine for COVID-19 in the second quarter next year if it gets the requisite approvals from the Indian regulatory authorities, according to a top company official. The company's vaccine candidate - Covaxin - has been developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV) using inactivated Sars-Cov-2, and is undergoing Phase 3 trials in the country.
By Chitranjan Kumar