Last week, Poonawalla's Serum Institute announced its partnership with Gavi and the Gates Foundation, to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries.
The country should have a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus by the end of this year, said Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India (SII) - the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume.
Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Poonawalla said starting December, the company will launch a COVID-19 vaccine.
"We are going to start trials in less than two weeks. The trial is in partnership with ICMR. We will start manufacturing vaccines by the end of August," Poonawalla said.
On August 7, the Serum Institute of India had announced the partnership with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
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.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of $150 million to Gavi, which will 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.
The funding will support at-risk manufacturing by SII for candidate vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax, which will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and WHO Prequalification.
On the price of the vaccine, he said that $3 is a risk-sharing price for the vaccine.
"$3 is a special price because of the funding we received. Pricing of the vaccine will be slightly higher once licenses are in place. Final pricing for the vaccine will be announced in two months," he added.Source: CNBC-TV18