A day after its deal with American vaccine developer Novavax, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has tied up with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to 10 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India and other low income countries by 2021.
For this, the Gates Foundation will provide an at-risk funding of $150 million to GAVI, which will then be used to support the Serum Institute of India to manufacture potential vaccine candidates, and for future procurement of vaccines for low- and middle-income countries via Gavi's COVAX AMC. SII has set a ceiling price of $3 (approximately Rs 225) per dose.
"Too many times we have seen the most vulnerable countries left at the back of the queue when it comes to new treatments, diagnostics and vaccines," said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
"In an attempt to make our fight against COVID-19 stronger and all-embracing; SII has partnered with Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of future COVID vaccines for low and middle income countries in 2021," said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII.
Poonawalla's SII has also entered a licence and supply agreement for the development and commercialisation of Novavax’ COVID‑19 vaccine candidate in India and other low- and middle-income countries. The deal was signed on July 30, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Novavax.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.