Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII) said on Wednesday that the Oxford CoVID-19 vaccine could be ready by December. Pune headquartered SII, under agreement with the British pharma giant AstraZeneca, is developing the vaccine in India, named CoviShield.
Poonawalla further added that the first batch of 100 million doses should be available by Q2 or Q3 2021.
In an interview with NDTV, Mr. Poonawalla said that if they don’t get an emergency license, their trials should be over by December. Therefore they could launch in India in January after the trials get over in the UK.
“If the UK in the next two weeks were to unblind their study and share the data and be confident that it’s safe, then we can, after two-three weeks, apply to the Indian regulator to look at a possible emergency license if that’s what the government of India wants,” he said.
He added that the review would probably take two-three weeks and we could have the vaccine by December. Furthermore, he mentioned that it still comes to the health ministry officials who will have the final say.
Testing and production of over 150 potential vaccines are happening at the moment globally. 38 of them have entered human trials. Meanwhile, candidates from Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc, and AstraZeneca Plc have already entered late-stage trials. The AstraZeneca developed Oxford vaccine has reportedly shown encouraging results in elderly and young participants. They are making the vaccine from a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees.
AstraZeneca reports that their vaccine shows a robust immune response
AstraZeneca has reported that the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine candidate or CoviShield vaccine “has produced a robust immune response in older adults and the elderly, those at highest risk of severe illness”.
Regarding the Oxford vaccine, Mr. Poonawalla added that although early indicators are all positive, the vaccine will take a year or two to have a long-term effect. “The vaccine is very safe. Thousands of people have had it in India and abroad so we’re cracking on. On track with no safety concerns,” he said.
Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest vaccine producer by the number of doses produced. They have tested multiple vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus including the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine as well as their own.
SII stopped trials temporarily when one of the participants had an “unexplained illness” in the UK. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) allowed SII to restart its combined Phase II/III clinical trials on September 16.
Mr. Poonawalla has said that the vaccine when available will have two doses with a gap of 28 days in between. He also said that the vaccine will also be affordable and cheaper than taking a test.