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COVID-19 vaccine | Never exported vaccines at the cost of the people of India, says Serum Institute's Adar Poonawalla

However, the company hopes to begin deliveries of vaccine to COVAX and other countries by end of 2021.

May 18, 2021 / 07:47 PM IST
Serum Institute India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla (Image: Twitter/@adarpoonawalla)

Serum Institute India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla (Image: Twitter/@adarpoonawalla)

Serum Institute of India (SII), which manufactures the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, has promised to continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India even though it hopes to begin deliveries to COVAX and other countries by end of 2021.

A media statement released by Adar Poonawalla’s company on May 18, after the World Health Organization (WHO) reminded it to catch up on its vaccine delivery commitment to COVAX countries, stated: “We (SII) have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people of India and remain committed to doing everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country.”

Commenting on discussions on the decision of the Government of India and vaccine manufacturers to export vaccines, SII reminded Indians that the pandemic is not limited by political or geographical boundaries, so, no one will be safe till the virus has been defeated at a global scale.

The SII further explained that India had exported vaccines when there was a large stockpile in the country. At the time, the number of daily cases being reported was also on the decline and there was a general belief that India was turning the tide on the pandemic. However, such was not the case in several countries that were faced with an acute crisis. They were in desperate need of help, which was provided by the Government of India.

Explaining the current vaccine crisis, Poonawalla said that people tend to forget that India is among the most populated countries in the world, which means, it is impossible to vaccinate the entire population within two or three months.

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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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He added it might even take two to three years for the entire world’s population to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 due to various factors and challenges involved.

Notably, SII has already supplied 200 million doses of Covishield vaccine, even though it received emergency use authorization two months after the US pharma companies. Now, it ranks among the top three vaccine makers in the world.

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