New Delhi: Serum Institute of India which has partnered with Oxford University and AstraZeneca for the coronavirus vaccine has said that the company has already started preparation for manufacturing the vaccine. Oxford University has recently published its findings from phase 1 trials of its vaccine. In the results published in The Lancet medical journal, it said that ‘vaccine AZD1222 had a favorable response in the first phase of clinical trials. It did not prompt any serious side effects and elicited antibody and T-cell immune responses.’
The University is collaborating with the pharma company AstraZeneca for manufacturing the vaccine. The company is also responsible for making this vaccine globally available if the vaccine passes the phases of trials. AstraZeneca has partnered with nine companies across the globe and is planning to produce 2 billion doses once the vaccine is ready to be rolled out. Pune-based Serum Institute has been chosen by Oxford and its partner AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine once it gets ready. Serum Institute is also going to start trails of the Oxford University vaccine in India after it procures a license.
“We are making this application within the next 48 hours to the Drug Controller General of India’s office. They will probably take about 1-2 weeks on what kind of study and trial we will have to do,” Poonawalla said, speaking to CNBC-TV-18 news channel.
But even though the final trial or phase 3 stage is still left, the company has already started preparing for manufacturing the vaccine. According to a report by PTI, the company has already manufactured around 2-3 million doses of the vaccine for testing the processes and stabilising its machinery. These according to CEO of Serum Institute Adar Poonawalla will not be used for humans. The report also says that the company will manufacture up to 70 million doses of the vaccine per month up to October, and plans to take it up to 100 million per month by December, so that it is ready to hit the market once the final approvals are in place.
The final nod of the vaccine if expected by the end of the year but Poonawalla said that it putting USD 200 million at risk by manufacturing nearly 300 million doses before that.
“If you look at the process right now, the risk of the opex (operating expenditure) which we are putting in is more than USD 200 million. If this vaccine fails, we will be down (by) USD 200 million,” he said, adding the expenses exclude the opportunity cost of using the same facility for some other purpose, “said Ponnawalla in the report.
He also said that 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 either in “quarter one or two” of next year.
In an interview with India Today Poonawalla also said that the company is planning to put the price of the vaccine at around Rs 1,000 or less than that per dose and that an ‘individual will not have to pay for it because the vaccines will mostly be bought by governments and then distributed free through the immunisation programmes.’