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UK is getting Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine next week, but India will have to wait till April for Covishield

Serum Institute's COVID-19 vaccine supply to private companies and in the open market will start only after orders from the government are met.

December 03, 2020 / 08:00 PM IST

COVID-19 vaccine (representative image)

Serum Institute of India (SII) is likely to start selling its COVID-19 vaccine in the open market after March-April 2021 as there is a substantial demand from companies which want to buy doses in bulk for their employees, The Economic Times reported.

In an email response to the newspaper, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla confirmed that private market availability “will probably be post March-April 2021, if the vaccine is found to be immunogenic and safe”.

While initial open market supply will be for large bulk orders, Covishield doses would be available for individuals too. But the supply to private companies will start only once orders from the government are met, the newspaper reported citing an official aware of the development.

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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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While there are no advance purchase commitments from the Centre so far, the Union Health Ministry has asked vaccine makers to set aside as many as 300 million doses of the vaccine by June 2021.

Serum Institute had earlier said that it is in the process of applying for emergency use authorisation for its vaccine. The vaccine candidate is currently undergoing phase-3 clinical trials.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: What you need to know about manufacturing and pricing

SII has a technology transfer agreement with Britain’s AstraZeneca for a vaccine against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. AstraZeneca has in turn partnered with University of Oxford.

On December 2, the United Kingdom became the first country to authorise the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use. Britain said that the vaccine will be rolled out for use from next week. The emergency authorization clears the path for the deployment of a vaccine which is expected to play a significant role in the global effort to stop the spread of the infectious disease.

Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic
Moneycontrol News
first published: Dec 3, 2020 09:49 am

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