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COVID-19 Vaccine | Covishield production in full swing: Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla also confirmed that he had “an excellent meeting” with all partners and stakeholders in the United Kingdom.

May 02, 2021 / 08:32 AM IST
File image: Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Serum Institute of India (SII) at his office in Pune (Image: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas)

File image: Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Serum Institute of India (SII) at his office in Pune (Image: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas)


The production of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine, more commonly known as Covishield in India, is “in full swing in Pune”, as per Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla.

In a tweet on May 1, Poonawalla said he was “pleased to state” that Covishield production at the SII’s Pune facility “is in full swing”. He added that he looks forward to “reviewing operations upon my return in a few days”.

Poonawalla also confirmed that he had “an excellent meeting” with all partners and stakeholders in the United Kingdom.

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This comes after Poonawalla spoke out about the pressures of producing COVID-19 vaccines to meet the ever-increasing demand in India as the country battles through a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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In his first comments since he was provided with ‘Y’ category security by the government in late April, Poonawalla told ‘The Times’ in an interview on May 1 that he received aggressive calls from “some of the most powerful people in India”, demanding supplies of Covishield.

The 40-year-old entrepreneur added that this pressure largely led his decision to fly into London to be with his wife and children.

But, he also indicated that the move to London is linked to business plans to expand vaccine manufacturing to countries outside India, which may include the UK.

“There’s going to be an announcement in the next few days,” he said, when asked about Britain as one of the production bases outside India.

Meanwhile, PTI reported that as many as 84,599 beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine in the country on May 1, when the phase 3 vaccination drive began. as per the Health Ministry data.

Follow our full COVID-19 coverage here
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