Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, which is in an advanced stage of manufacturing a vaccine for COVID-19 in partnership with Oxford University, which is undergoing human trial, tells Sudhir Suryawanshi that production is being started so that the vaccine is already available for use as soon as the trials are successful. Excerpts from the interview:
How much time will it take for the COVID-19 vaccine to be ready and how effective will it be?
We have been working closely with Dr Adrian Hill from Oxford University on the vaccine development. While the clinical trials have already commenced in the UK, we are initiating production as well hoping that when the trials are successful, we will have the first batch of doses ready for use by September or October.
What will be the cost of the one vaccine for people and how many vaccines will be available or produced in a month?
It’s too early to comment on the pricing at this point, but we will surely keep it affordable. We aim to manufacture 4-5 million doses per month, following which we aim to scale up production to 10 million doses a month, based on the success of the trials.
We are looking forward to manufacturing up to 20-40 million doses by September-October. If the trials are successful, we will make the product available in as many countries as possible, including India.
Is Maharashtra or the Central govt helping and playing any role in producing this vaccine?
Yes, we have got full support from the governments and they are looking into it quite proactively.
Are you also making COVID-19 testing kits to scale-up testing for coronavirus?
We have recently partnered with Mylab and will be ramping up the production of COVID-19 testing kits, taking it from 1.5 lakh units per week to 20 lakh units per week. Additionally, we are amplifying our efforts to develop an efficacious vaccine while also strengthening our robust infrastructure to manufacture the same in large quantities. To reduce dependency on imported products to manufacture testing kits in association with Mylabs, we have additionally partnered with Syngene International for the purpose.