Covid vaccine production in two months if trials are successful, says SII CEO

If trials are successful in establishing efficiency, then production of coronavirus vaccine will be done in two months, said Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine producer, while speaking to The Daily Guardian. Excerpts:

Q. How far have SII and Oxford reached in the development of the Covid-19 vaccine? The vaccine was effective on monkeys but many stages are still left…

A. Currently, we are at the pre-clinical trials stage and we will be able to comment further once the vaccine trials are over. Our manufacturing facility is ready, and we plan to start the production in two months, if the trials are successful in establishing efficiency.

Q. Do you think India will get the vaccine by the end of this year? What would be the realistic time frame? How many vaccines will India be getting?

A. It is a bit early to comment on specific numbers, however, if the vaccine trials succeed, India will gain access to the doses as it will also be the requirement of the Government of India. And we are certain that everybody will respect it if the substantial volumes go to India.

Q. If trials are successful then at what price will this vaccine be sold out by Serum Institute? What would be the commercial decision?

A. Only once the development of the vaccine commences, we will be able to take a decision in the coming months. However, we are certain that it will be affordable and hopefully will be procured and distributed by governments free of cost.  

 Q. British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca, which has joined hands with the University of Oxford, has said they are set to roll out their vaccines in the month of September. What would you say as the world is waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine? Serum was also firming up a deal with AstraZeneca and has good relations with them.

A. We are delighted to partner with AstraZeneca in bringing this Covid-19 vaccine to India as well as low- and middleincome countries. Our team at SII will work closely with AstraZeneca to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine in these countries. And once the trials are completed successfully for safety and efficacy, we will initiate the distribution post regulatory approvals. We are certain that we will have a few million doses ready by the year-end

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