Serum Institute of India to start manufacturing COVID-19 vaccine in 3 weeks


Again India is on the global limelight, with our scientific and technology innovation, where the world famous Oxford University came forward to partner with Pune based company as one of the seven global institutions manufacturing the vaccine.


The Vaccine major Serum Institute of India on Sunday 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.


“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, which is expected by 2021. 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.


He made the remarks during an online conference on the theme of ‘Combating COVID-19: Biotech to the Rescue’, organised by the Department of Biotechnology and Bennett University. “


Whosoever makes and develops the vaccine will need multiple partners to manufacture the vaccine. I hope that whichever company develops the vaccine will not hide behind patents and makes it available even on royalties or some commercial understanding to as many manufacturers across the world to make billions of dosages very quickly.


“I can speak for my company, SII. We are not going to patent this product and we will make it available to as many people as we can to manufacture this drug because we don’t want to make money from and commercialise something beyond a sustainable level in such a public health epidemic and we are able to do this because we are a private limited company and that is part of why we didn’t list, because we are not accountable to shareholders. Poonawalla said.


Talking about the vaccine, he said at the moment the company is conducting animal trials with mice and primates. It is hoping to start clinical trials with humans in around a month in India. “By 2021, at the very latest, we should have a vaccine against COVID-19 from SII,” Poonawalla said.


On the lockdown, he said while it was essential, it is not the only way to deal with the problem in the long run. “Eventually once the lockdowns are lifted and the travel bans are lifted, you are going to see the cases come up again but that’s not something to worry about. “We will build herd immunity in next 2 to 3 years, like we did for H1N1 and all the rest of it, and by then the vaccines and other drugs will complete trials and hopefully whether it is our vaccine or someone else’s will be in the market to further increase that herd immunity to a level of 80 to 90 per cent,” Poonawalla said.


He further said, we can expect a few drugs like hydroxychloroquine to prove themselves in the coming months but there is no drug or vaccine today that has proven in a clinical trial against COVID-19, so we should not be hoarding these drugs and taking them, he added.


“I urge everybody to understand that a lockdown is not going to get rid of all the cases. I would also send this message to the government that please do not have multiple lockdowns after we open up in May, June because we will just cripple the economy and step on people’s livelihoods beyond a point, that we will not be able to comeback,” Poonawalla said.


Death toll due to COVID-19 has crossed 200,000 globally, with the number of infections at over 2.8 million and in India, the coronavirus has claimed over 875 lives and the number of cases has crossed the 27,900-mark. Lastly, the company plans to initiate the trials in India for the vaccine with necessary regulatory approvals, which are underway presently.Poonawalla concludes.