Adar Poonawalla Hopeful Of Launching Covovax By October

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla on Friday said he is hopeful that Covovax, another COVID-19 vaccine being manufactured by his company in India, will be launched in October for adults and for children by the first quarter of 2022. He also thanked the government for all the support provided to Serum Institute and said the company is always trying to expand its Covishield production capacity to meet the demand.

Poonawalla met Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament and the meeting between the two lasted for 30 minutes. “The government is helping us and we are facing no financial crunch. We are thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for all the cooperation and support,” Poonawala told the press, after his meeting.

As regards vaccines for children, he said, “The Covovax vaccine for kids will be launched in the first quarter of the next year most likely in January-February.” He said he was hopeful that for adults Covovax will be launched in October, depending on DCGI approvals. It will be a two-dose vaccine and the price will be decided at the time of launch, he added.

Last month, an expert panel of India’s Central Drug Authority recommended granting permission to Serum Institute of India for conducting phase 2/3 trials of Covovax on children aged 2 to 17 years with certain conditions, official sources had earlier said. The trials would cover 920 children, 460 each in the age group of 12-17 and 2-11 across 10 sites.

Speaking on the production capacity of Covishield, the vaccine being manufactured and supplied by Serum in India under a licensing agreement with Oxford and AstraZeneca, he said the present capacity is 130 million doses per month and efforts are always on to increase it further.

Currently, only those who are 18 or above are eligible for vaccination against the coronavirus. The SII is learnt to have informed that their collaborator, Novavax, Inc, US has already generated a large amount of data in adults in different countries and that the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity data on the Novavax COVID-I9 vaccine are very robust which includes a safety database of more than 50000 adults with data from Australia, South Africa, UK and USA and preliminary safety data in 2248 children.

Further in the ongoing Phase 2/3 study in India, more than 1400 participants have received at least first dose of the vaccine with no safety concerns reported so far. This will ensure that a life-saving vaccine can be brought at the earliest for our pediatric population also in addition to the adult population immediately after the grant of Emergency Use Authorisation.

In August 2020, US-based vaccine maker Novavax, Inc had announced a licence agreement with SII for the development and commercialisation of NVX-CoV2373, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, in low and middle-income countries and India.

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