- CEO of Serum Institute talks about when Oxford Vaccine could be available
- Adar Poonawalla says Vaccine could be available in February for elderly and healthcare workers
- Cost of 2 doses of Oxford vaccine can be ₹ 1,000
Chief Executive Officer of India’s biggest vaccine maker Serum Institute said that the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford should be available for the healthcare workers and also the elderly by around February 2021.
Adar Poonawalla also said that for the general public the vaccine would be available by April next year and will be priced at a maximum of ₹ 1,000 for 2 necessary doses for the public which would also depend on the final trial results and regulatory approvals.
Adar Poonawalla said, “It will probably take two or three years for every Indian to get inoculated, not just because of the supply constraints but because you need the budget, the vaccine, logistics, infrastructure and then, people should be willing to take the vaccine. So these are the factors that lead up to being able to vaccinate 80-90 per cent of the population.
“It will be 2024 for everybody, if willing to take a two-dose vaccine, to be vaccinated”.
When asked about the price at which the public would be able to buy the vaccine, he said it should be around $ 5 and $ 6 per dose which puts it an MRP of around ₹1,000 for the 2 necessary doses.
Poonawalla said, “The government of India will be getting it at a far cheaper price at around USD 3-4, because it will be buying in a large volume and get access to the price that is similar to what COVAX has got. We are still pricing it far cheaper and more affordable than other vaccines we have in the market today”.
When a question was raised about the efficacy of the vaccine, he said that the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is so far proving to work very well even in elderly people, which was a concern earlier.
He said, “It has induced a good T-cell response, which is an indicator for your long-term immunity and antibody response but then again, time will only tell if these vaccines are going to protect you in the long term. Nobody can answer that for any of the vaccines today”.
He responded to a question on the safety concerns on the Oxford vaccine saying there has been no major complaints, reactions or adverse events, adding, “We would need to wait and see. The efficacy and immunogenicity results from the Indian trials will come out in about a month-and-a-half.”
When asked about when people can expect the Serum Institute of India (SII) an application for the emergency use authorisation, Poonawalla said that as soon as the United Kingdom authorities and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA) approve it for emergency use, the firm will apply to the drug controller for emergency use authorisation in India.
He added, “But that will be for a limited use for frontline workers, healthcare workers and elderly people”.
Talking about how the vaccine would go for children, Poonawalla said, children, will have to wait a little longer until the safety data is out, but exclaimed that the good news is that COVID-19 is not so bad and serious for them.
He said, “Unlike measles pneumonia, which is deadly, this disease is seeming to be less of a nuisance for children but then, they can be carriers and can give the infection to others.
“We want to vaccinate the elderly people and others who are the most vulnerable first. Once we have enough safety data to go in on children, we can recommend it for children too”.
He said that the vaccines being developed by Oxford is not just affordable but also safe and can be stored at a temperature of two to eight degrees Celsius, which is an ideal temperature for it to be stored in the cold storages of India.
He said the SII plans to make about 10 crore doses per month from February.
Adar Poonawalla said, “India wants around 400 million (40 crore) doses by July. I do not know if it will take all from the Serum Institute. We are gearing up to offer that kind of volume to India and still have a few 100 million (10 crore) to offer to COVAX by July and August. No agreement so far,”.
Adar Poonawalla claimed that the Serum Institute of India is not entering into any agreement with any other country at this moment as India is the chief priority.
He said, “We have not signed and committed anything else beyond Bangladesh at the moment. We really do not want to partner right now with many countries because we will not have enough stocks to deliver. “We want to handle India as a priority first and manage Africa at the same time and then help out other countries.”