The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has set a ceiling price for the coronavirus vaccine at Rs 225 ($3) per dose. The Pune-based company entered into a partnership with Gavi (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (not clear) to produce 100 million doses for India and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of US$150 million to Gavi, which will be used to support the SII to manufacture the potential vaccine candidates. Vaccines will be priced at maximum US$ 3 per dose and made available to the 92 countries included in Gavi's COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC)," SII said in a statement.
The collaboration will provide "upfront capital" through the foundation's strategic investment funds to SII to increase manufacturing activity. The Serum Institute added that once they receive regulatory approval and WHO prequalification, the doses will be produced "as early as the first half of 2021". The distribution will be done through the COVAX mechanism.
COVAX, co-led by GAVI, as well as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO, aims to provide equitable access to the vaccine. This is done by pooling funds from donor countries to purchase vaccines mainly for lower- and middle-income countries, including GAVI nations like India.
Under the new collaboration, AstraZeneca's candidate vaccine, if successful, will be available to 57 GAVI-eligible countries. Whereas, Novavax's candidate, if successful, will be available to all 92 countries supported by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, according to SII.
The Serum institute has already joined hands with Astra Zeneca and Novavax to develop their coronavirus candidates.
SII might begin its Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials in India within a week. Currently, phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Oxford vaccine candidate are going on in the United Kingdom, phase 3 clinical trial in Brazil.
Initial results from the first two phases of trials of the coronavirus vaccine conducted at five trial sites in the UK showed the inoculation had an acceptable safety profile.
SII had raised around $100 million to invest in building its capacity to manufacture just the Oxford candidate vaccine, 'Covishield'.
Meanwhile, the Phase-1 human clinical trials of the two COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and Zydus Cadila Healthcare Limited have been completed.
There are more than 100 companies across the world, that are trying hard to make a vaccine against coronavirus. However, only a few companies' vaccine candidates have shown successful results, including the Oxford vaccine, Moderna, and Pfizer.
In fact, the Swiss government on Saturday struck a deal with Moderna to supply Switzerland with 4.5 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The (Swiss) government is also in talks with other vaccine companies and has already allocated 300 million Swiss francs (nearly 330 million) for the purchases of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the Swiss government did not specify the Moderna deal.
Additionally, Russia is claiming that it is about to become the world's first country to create a coronavirus vaccine, planned as early as October. The vaccine has been developed jointly by the Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian Defence Ministry.