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India's Serum Institute despatches first Covax vaccines

The global vaccine procurement and equitable distribution effort aims to secure vaccines for at least the most vulnerable 20 percent in every country.

February 23, 2021 / 06:17 PM IST
Representative Image

Representative Image

India's Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, despatched on Tuesday its first batch of vaccine shots for the Covax global inoculation programme.

The global vaccine procurement and equitable distribution effort aims to secure vaccines for at least the most vulnerable 20 percent in every country.

Covax, led by the World Health Organization and the GAVI alliance, has struck agreements with manufacturers for two billion doses in 2021 and has the option for another billion.

This includes 1.1 billion doses from the Serum Institute, which is producing the AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines.

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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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WHO Southeast Asia tweeted photos of the first shipments being loaded onto a truck at Serum's manufacturing facility in Pune in western India.

Serum has already supplied the Indian government with millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as other poorer nations.

The company's head Adar Poonawalla on Sunday urged other countries to be "patient", saying it had been instructed to prioritise its home market over exports.

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AFP
first published: Feb 23, 2021 06:17 pm

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