The Serum Institute of India's Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla has again assured that he will focus on supplying the much-anticipated vaccine against coronavirus to India first.
Serum Institute has tied up with British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to mass-produce the Covishield vaccine to fight back COVID-19 virus.
Speaking to the media, Poonawalla said, "It's very important we take care of our country first, then go on to Covax after that and then other bilateral deals with countries. So I've kept it in that priority".
COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic.
Recently, Poonawalla also said Serum Institute is in talks with the government to seal the purchase agreement. He said the government will get the vaccine at a lower price, probably around $3-4 (Rs 220).
The 39-year-old CEO also claimed that if things go according to the plan, the coronavirus vaccine will be available for vulnerable populations by January or February. And, in March or April, the vaccine will enter the market for the general public.
Yesterday, AstraZeneca revealed that its COVID-19 vaccine was 70 per cent effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90 per cent effective.
After the announcement, Poonawalla expressed joy on Twitter. The Serum Institute's CEO tweeted, "I am delighted to hear that, Covishield, a low-cost, logistically manageable and soon to be widely available, Covid-19 vaccine, will offer protection up to 90% in one type of dosage regime and 62% in the other dosage regime." He also said that further details on this development will be provided this evening".
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on average prevented 70 per cent of COVID-19 cases in late-stage trials in Britain and Brazil. The success rate rose to 90 per cent in a group of trial participants who accidentally received a half dose followed by a full dose. The efficacy was 62 per cent if the full dose was given twice, as it was for most study participants.
The AstraZeneca said that the company will have 200 million doses of its vaccine candidate - Covishield - developed by the University of Oxford, by the end of 2020; and 700 million doses ready globally by the end of the first quarter of 2021.