Pune’s Serum Institute to start making coronavirus vaccine that is under trial

Serum Institute of India will be manufacturing Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine in anticipation of clinical trials succeeding by September-October in the UK
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Vaccine major Serum Institute of India said it plans to start production of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University in the next two to three weeks and hopes to bring it to the market by October if the human clinical trials are successful.

The Pune-based company has partnered with Oxford University as one of the seven global institutions manufacturing the vaccine.

“Our team has been working closely with Dr Hill from Oxford University, and we are expecting to initiate production of the vaccine in 2-3 weeks and produce 5 million doses per month for the first 6 months, following which, we hope to scale up production to 10 million doses per month,” Serum Institute India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said.

SII has collaborated with scientists at Oxford University for a malaria vaccine project in the past and can say with certainty that they are some of the best scientists, he added.

“We expect the (COVID-19) vaccine to be out in the market by September – October, only if the trials are successful with the requisite safety and assured efficacy. We will be starting trials in India for this vaccine hopefully over the next 2-3 weeks’ time,” Poonawalla said.

SII will be manufacturing the vaccine in anticipation of clinical trials succeeding by September-October in the UK, he added.

“Following that, we have undertaken the decision to initiate manufacturing at our own risk. The decision has been solely taken to have a jump-start on manufacturing, to have enough doses available, if the clinical trials prove successful,” Poonawalla said.

The company plans to initiate the trials in India for the vaccine with necessary regulatory approvals, which are underway presently.

“Keeping the current situation in mind, we have funded this endeavour at a personal capacity and hopefully will be able to enlist the support of other partners to further scale-up the vaccine production,” Poonawalla said.

The vaccines will be manufactured at the company’s facility in Pune. Building a new facility for COVID-19 vaccine would have taken around 2-3 years, he added.

The Indian regulatory authorities are working with the company to ensure smooth procedural functioning. “We are in touch with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and ICMR,” Poonawalla said.

The company had earlier said it will not patent any COVID-19 vaccine which it develops.

Asked about the decision, Poonawalla reiterated, “We will not patent Serum’s vaccine for COVID-19 and will make it available for all to produce and sell, not just in India but across the world.”

Whosoever makes and develops the vaccine will need multiple partners to manufacture the vaccine, he added.

“I hope that whichever company develops the vaccine does not get it patented and makes it available based on royalties or a commercial understanding to as many manufacturers across the world to make billions of dosages at a fast pace,” Poonawalla said.

Death toll due to COVID-19 has crossed 200,000 globally, with the number of infections at over 2.8 million.

In India, the coronavirus has claimed over 800 lives and the number of cases has crossed the 26,000-mark.

Covid 19 vaccineOxford UniversitySerum Institute of India
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  • PRASANTA

    It is very heartening to learn that a vaccine shall be ready to fight COVID-19 disease. India is anticipated to be one of the other leading countries working on the COVID-19 disease vaccine to come up so early with a vaccine. And this, as has been mentioned, shall be the result of a collaboration with the Oxford University., UK. and Serum Research Institute, India. The production shall be for India as well as for the parts of the world. This is great news! The Serum Research Institute has pioneered the supply of conventional vaccines to the world thus far. This initiative shall, therefore, be another feather in their cap.

  • Mandeep Singh

    If the vaccine works as your post says
    Should we not give a shot to patients on death bed as they already at the point of no return
    This might test the vitality of the vaccine and even bring the death rate done
    Producing a few hundred couldn’t be a problem for the company and could be send where needed on demand