- Serum Institute of India is trying COVID-19 vaccine on animals
- It says if they succeed in trials the vaccine will make it available to the patients
- However, the vaccine will not come cheap
On Tuesday, Cyrus S. Poonawalla founded Serum Institute of India said that this year it plans to produce as many as 60 million (6 crore) doses of a potential vaccine which can cure the novel Coronavirus which is currently under clinical trial in the United Kingdom.
Serum Institute is the largest vaccine producer of vaccines in the whole world in terms of volume and will mass produce the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford which has already started human trials last week. Oxford University, currently, is leading in the race to develop an antidote for the Coronavirus pandemic.
Over 31 lakh people around the globe have been infected by this deadly virus while the total fatalities have crossed 2.10 lakh mark.
Though the vaccine tested by Oxford, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is yet to be proven to work against COVID-19 in humans, Serum has taken a rather bold move to start with the production as it has shown success in animal trials and had progressed to human trials said the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla.
Poonawalla was quoted saying, “They are a bunch of very qualified, great scientists (at Oxford)…That’s why we said we will go with this and that’s why we are confident,” by a leading global news agency.
Poonawalla added, “Being a private limited company, not accountable to public investors or bankers, I can take a little risk and sideline some of the other commercial products and projects that I had planned in my existing facility,”.
It is being reported that almost 100 potential vaccines for the novel Coronavirus are being developed by research and biotech team around the globe. At least 5 of those drugs are in preliminary testing in people which is called Phase 1 clinical trials.
Poonawalla said he has high hopes from the trials at Oxford University which due to finish around September. Last week, the scientists at Oxford said that their main focus of these initial tests was to ascertain not just that the vaccine works but that the vaccine induced good immune response with no unacceptable side-effects.
Serum Institute of India plans to produce the vaccine at 2 of its manufacturing plants in the Western City Pune and aims to produce as many as 400 million (40 crore) doses by next year if everything goes as planned said Poonawalla.
He said, “A majority of the vaccine, at least initially, would have to go to our countrymen before it goes abroad,” and added, the Serum Institute will leave it in the hands of the government to decide which country/ countries would get what amount of the vaccines and when.
Though Serum Institute would put a price tag of Rs. 1,000 per vaccine, the governments will be providing it to the people free of cost said Poonawalla.
He sais that the Prime Minister Office (PMO) is “very closely” involved in the production of the vaccine and the company hopes that the government will help foot the cost of manufacturing it.
Over the next 5 months, the Serum Institute will spend anywhere between Rs. 30 crore to Rs. 40 crore on producing around 30 to 50 lakh doses each month said Poonawalla. He added, “(The government) are very happy to share some risk and fund something with us, but we haven’t really pencilled anything down yet,”.
Serum Institute has also partnered with the United States’ biotech company named Codagenix and Austria’s Themis on 2 other Coronavirus vaccines and also plans to announce the 4th venture in the coming weeks said Poonawalla.
However, the president of the United States of America says that disinfectant could be used to cure people but fails to explain what type of disinfectant he was talking about. US Officials had to come forward after the statement asking people not to inject themselves with household disinfectant.
Last week the Board of Directors of Serum Institute of India agreed to invest around Rs 600 crore on making a new manufacturing unit solely for the production of COVID-19 vaccines said Poonawalla.