Serum’s COVID-19 Vaccine To Reach Patients Next Year, Cost Rs 1000
New Delhi: Serum Institute of India (SII), which has partnered with biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to manufacture the experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by University of Oxford, expects the vaccine to reach the people of India by the first quarter of 2021.
Adar Poonawalla, SII’s chief executive officer, said they will launch the vaccine under the brand name of Covishield if the trials are successful both in the United Kingdom and in India, according to an HT report.
The potential coronavirus vaccine appears safe and induces a strong immune response within the body, scientists announced on Monday after the first phase of human trials.
Doses of the vaccine were given to more than 1,000 healthy adults, in the age group of 18 and 55, in five UK hospitals in April and May as part of the phase one clinical trial, according to trial results published in The Lancet medical journal on Monday.
The vaccine prompted no serious side effects and elicited antibody and T-cell immune responses with the strongest response seen in people who received two doses.
AstraZeneca has tied up with Pune-based SII to manufacture and supply the vaccine to India and more than 60 other countries having a combined population of 3 billion.
The company has already manufactured around 2-3 million doses of the vaccine for getting the process correct and also stabilising its machinery, Ponnawalla said, clarifying that these will never be used on humans.
“We are going to give it at a very affordable price. We are planning to put it at about Rs 1000 or less than that… I don’t think any citizen of India or of any other country is going to have to pay for it because it is going to be bought by the government and distributed free,” he said.
The company will manufacture upto 70 million doses per month by October as part of the special permission and plans to scale it up to 100 million per month by December.
If this goes to plan, the phase three trials will take two months after the patients get injected and the vaccine gets a final nod by November, he said, adding that in such a scenario, it can get introduced in the first quarter of 2021.
SII is investing $200 million in manufacture of nearly 300 million doses before the final nod to launch the vaccine in market.