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Parsi quota for COVID-19 vaccine: Adar Poonawalla to keep ‘more than enough' as Ronnie Screwvala suggests so

Adar Poonawalla, while responding to a tweet from Ronnie Screwvala, said Serum Institute of India's "production capacity of just one day will be enough to cover every Parsi on the planet".

July 27, 2020 / 08:14 PM IST

Serum Institute of India (SII)’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla, on July 26, said his company would “keep more than enough” doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for the Parsi community.

Poonawalla was responding to a tweet from entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala, in which the latter had proposed to have a “special quota” for Parsis, albeit on a “lighter note”.

“Yes, @RonnieScrewvala, we will keep more than enough for the community. Our production capacity of just one day will be enough to cover every Parsi on the planet...given the size of our community!” Poonawalla tweeted.

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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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A community newsletter earlier reported that SII founder Cyrus Poonawalla had agreed to set aside 60,000 doses of the vaccine, still under development, for fellow Parsis. This was following a request from former Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BBP) chairman Dinshaw Rusi Mehta, The Economic Times reported.

“We are a micro minority and every Parsi is required to be saved and healthy..At present, we are only 60,000 in numbers and 40 Parsis have died of Covid,” Mehta reportedly said in a WhatsApp message to Poonawalla.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.

It was unclear if Adar Poonawalla’s response to Screwvala was only made in passing.

Also read: Serum Institute of India seeks DCGI permission for phase 2/3 clinical trials of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine

SII has tied-up with AstraZeneca to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed by Oxford University. The company is planning to manufacture 70 million doses per month initially, subject to regulatory approvals.

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first published: Jul 27, 2020 10:09 am
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