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COVID-19 vaccine update | Serum Institute expects WHO emergency approval for AstraZeneca shot soon

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla also said his company, the world's biggest vaccine maker, would start stockpiling millions of doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine candidate from around April.

January 14, 2021 / 06:11 PM IST
AstraZeneca vaccine (Image: Reuters)

AstraZeneca vaccine (Image: Reuters)

Serum Institute of India expects World Health Organization (WHO) emergency-use authorisation soon for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, which it is producing for mid and low-income countries, its chief executive said.

"The emergency use licensure from the WHO should be available and coming through in the next week or two, hopefully, because we have submitted everything," Adar Poonawalla told the Reuters Next conference on January 14.

Poonawalla also said his company, the world's biggest vaccine maker, would start stockpiling millions of doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine candidate from around April.

"It will be upwards of 40-50 million doses per month is what we are trying to stockpile of the Novavax product," he said.

The CEO said a special purpose vehicle housing its pandemic-related products should be valued at $12 billion to $13 billion.

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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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"We are in a unique position to be able to make so many different vaccines at a huge volume and capacity," he said.

"For an investor to come in at a $12-13 billion valuation, it will be a fantastic deal, leaving a lot of upside."
Reuters

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