Pune-based Serum Institute, which is credited with affordable and innovative therapies like pneumonia and dengue vaccines, plans to price the COVID-19 vaccine at Rs 1,000 per dose in India, reported Times of India.
Serum is one of the global manufacturers that is putting its weight behind an Oxford University-led consortium, which announced the start of human clinical trials on April 23 and is one of the first such projects to get underway globally.
"We hope to start trials in India in May, with a few hundred patients, and expect to roll out the vaccine by September-October, if the trials are successful," Serum Institute CEO and promoter Adar Poonawalla said, adding that the institute is planning to make the vaccine available at around Rs 1,000.
The pricing in India is expected to be substantially lower than the global one as in cases of other vaccines like MMR, (measles, mumps, and rubella), which are available at over 10 times the India price in countries like the United Kingdom.
"We will start production in India after trials get over in September in the UK. We aim to manufacture four to five million doses per month for the first six months, following which, we might scale up to 20-40 million doses by September-October. If successful, we will make the product available in as many countries as possible," Poonawalla added.
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.