Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, will be selling the first 100 million doses of its Coronavirus vaccine Covishield to the Union government at a special price of ₹200, as per CEO, Adar Poonawalla, after which prices would be higher. The vaccine will be sold on the private market at ₹1,000 per dose. He said vaccines could be delivered to states where they were needed within seven to ten days of the company finalising a deal with the government. SII has is in a collaboration with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine.
Adar Poonawalla said that SII has been barred from exporting the vaccine for several months or selling it on the private market. With rich nations reserving most of the vaccines produced this year, SII will likely make most of the inoculations for developing countries. However, the ban on exports will leave the poorer nations in waiting for a few months before receiving their first shots.
“We can only give (the vaccines) to the government of India at the moment,” said Adar, adding that the decision was made to prevent hoarding. As a result, the export of vaccines for COVAX (the initiative created to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines set up by the World Health Organization, vaccines alliance GAVI and CEPI, a global coalition to fight epidemics) won’t begin until March or April, 2021.
He stated that SII was in the process of signing a larger contract with COVAX for 300 million-400 million doses of the vaccine – apart from two existing orders of 100 million doses each for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and another one from Novovax. The deal would be finalized in the coming weeks.
SII plans to give 200 million to 300 million doses of the vaccine to COVAX by December 2021. It is also negotiating bilateral agreements with individual countries including Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, “So that at least the most vulnerable in the states of our country or in other parts of other countries are taken care off,” explained Adar. He surmised that even if all the plans by different global vaccine manufacturers were to succeed, he still anticipates a global shortage for coronavirus vaccines over the next year.
SII, Bharat Biotech To Collectively Roll Out Covid vaccines in India: After the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) approved Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for restricted emergency use, on 3rd January, 2021, both the vaccine manufacturers jointly communicated their pledge towards a ‘smooth rollout’ of COVID-19 vaccines to India and the world.
In a joint statement issued by Adar Poonawalla and Bharat Biotech’s Chairman, Dr. Krishna Ella, the companies said that the more important task in front of them was saving the lives and livelihoods of populations in India and the world. “Now that two COVID-19 vaccines have been issued EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) In India, the focus is on manufacturing, supply and distribution, such that populations that need it the most receive high quality, safe and efficacious vaccines,” the joint statement said.
Both organisations also reiterated that they were fully engaged in this activity and considered it their duty to the nation and the world at large to ensure a smooth rollout of vaccines. Each company continues its COVID-19 vaccines development activities as planned.