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COVID-19 vaccine export may start in 2 weeks, says Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla

Serum Institute's Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said that exports of the COVID-19 vaccine doses will start only after local requirements are fully met.

January 18, 2021 / 09:13 AM IST
Representative image: Reuters

Representative image: Reuters

Export of COVID-19 vaccines can start in about next two weeks, the Business Standard reported, quoting Serum Institute of India (SII)’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla.

The news report further cites Poonawalla as saying that exports of the vaccine doses will start only after local requirements are fully met.

Further, the Serum Institute will start producing the Novavax vaccine candidate at its facility in “around two months from now.” Poonawalla told the newspaper that his company was making preparations and working on regulatory protocols.

The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine candidate is currently under clinical trial in the United States and would have to go through a bridging trial in India.

SII is already manufacturing doses of ‘Covishield’, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. The vaccine was granted emergency use authorisation in India earlier this month.


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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Covishield is one of the two jabs being used as part of the “world’s largest” vaccination exercise that was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 16.


Priority is being given to healthcare and frontline workers, who had already been registered on the purpose-built CoWIN application. This would be sequentially followed by people with comorbidities, senior citizens, and finally, the general public. The Centre is hoping to vaccinate 30 crore people by July, in a bid to stop the novel coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: All you need to know about manufacturing and pricing

As of January 17, India had reported more than 1.05 crore confirmed COVID-19 cases. The death toll from the outbreak in the country stood at over 1.52 lakh. While more than 1.01 crore patients had recovered, 2.11 lakh cases remained ‘active’. Globally, more than 9.44 crore individuals have been infected by the virus and over 20.24 lakh people have died so far.

A speedy rollout of vaccines is being seen as the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normalcy in the pandemic-battered global economy. More than 50 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have already vaccinated a large number of people from high-risk groups.

Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 18, 2021 09:13 am
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