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SII's Adar Poonawalla and Bharat Biotech's Krishna Ella set aside differences, say saving lives from COVID-19 is more important

"We are fully aware of the importance of vaccines for people and countries alike, we hereby communicate our joint pledge to provide global access for our COVID-19 vaccines," they said.

January 05, 2021 / 03:22 PM IST
Adar Poonawalla (File Image: Twitter)

Adar Poonawalla (File Image: Twitter)

The more important task in front of us (Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India) is saving the lives and livelihoods and populations in India and the world, Adar Poonawala and Krishna Ella, jointly on behalf of the two companies, said.

A day after a war of words, the two came together to issue this statement on their combined intent to develop manufacture and supply the COVID-19 vaccines for India and globally.

"Vaccines are a global public health good and they have the power to save lives and accelerate the return to economic normalcy at the earliest," they said, adding, "Both our Companies are fully engaged in this activity and consider it our duty to the nation and the world at large to ensure a smooth rollout of vaccines. Each of our Companies continue their COVID-19 vaccines development activities as planned."

"We are fully aware of the importance of vaccines for people and countries alike, we hereby communicate our joint pledge to provide global access for our COVID-19 vaccines," the two said.

On January 4, Ella took a back-swipe at Adar Poonawalla’s jibe calling vaccines other than those by AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer as “like water.”

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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 do 200 percent honest clinical trials and yet we receive backlash. If I am wrong, tell me. Some companies have branded me like water," he said.

Ella deflected criticism from industry experts and opposition leaders, asserting that the company has “a track record of producing safe and efficacious vaccines and has been transparent with all data.” He also said that Phase III data for Covaxin trials will be available in March.

He further said that sufficient data has already been revealed and is available online for people to access and suggested that Covaxin is being targeted and called “inferior” with questions raised about “sidestepping processes” and “premature clearances” because it is “a product of an Indian company.”

“The approval of Covaxin for emergency use is a giant leap for innovation and novel product development in India. It is a proud moment for the nation and a great milestone in India’s scientific capability, a kickstart to the innovation ecosystem in India," Ella, Bharat Biotech's Chairman and Managing Director said on January 3.

The restricted use approval paves the way for Indian authorities to start vaccinating the masses. The government has planned vaccination of 25-30 crore people by July.

As of January 5, India had reported more than one crore confirmed COVID-19 cases. The death toll from the outbreak in the country stood at nearly 1.5 lakh. Globally, more than 8.4 crore individuals have been infected by the virus and over 18.3 lakh people have died so far.

A speedy rollout of vaccines is being seen as the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normalcy in the pandemic-hit global economy. As many as 50 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have already granted emergency use authorisation to multiple COVID-19 vaccines and have started vaccinating high-risk groups.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 5, 2021 03:22 pm

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