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Serum Institute requests govt to fast-track movement of increasing Covishield stock

SII will commence its Covid vaccine export under the COVAX programme from November 23 and Nepal will receive the first lot of Covishiled on November 24.

November 21, 2021 / 06:36 PM IST
A vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is produced in India and marketed as Covishield (Image: Reuters)

A vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is produced in India and marketed as Covishield (Image: Reuters)

Serum Institute of India (SII) has urged the government to fast-track Covishield movement citing the difficulties being faced in production and cold chain space planning for other vaccines because of the increasing stock of its COVID-19 jab, official sources said on Sunday.

Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at SII, is learnt to have recently communicated to the Union Health Ministry that it has a manufactured stock of 24,89,15,000 Covishield doses and it is increasing every day.

In addition to the Covishield vaccine, the Pune-based firm also manufactures and supplies various life-saving vaccines to EPI, UNICEF and different countries, Singh is learnt to have told the ministry.

"To fulfil our domestic and global supply commitments, we have to plan our production/cold chain space/human resource well in advance. In view of continuous increase in the stock of Covishield, we are facing a lot of difficulties in production/cold chain space/human resource planning for other life-saving vaccines," an official source quoted Singh as having stated in the letter.

"In view of these facts, genuine difficulties and as this matter is directly concerned with the availability of various other life-saving vaccines in our country and the world at large, we request for your kind intervention for fast-track movement of our Covishield vaccine domestically and globally," Singh is learnt to have stated.

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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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The Centre has allowed SII to export 50 Lakh doses of Covishied under the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing programme to Nepal, Tajikistan and Mozambique. SII will also export Covishield to Bangladesh under COVAX, an official source said.

The Serum Institute will commence its Covid vaccine export under the COVAX programme from November 23 and Nepal will receive the first lot of Covishiled on November 24.

The government had in October permitted SII to export 10 lakh Covishield doses, each to Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh under the 'Vaccine Maitri' programme.
PTI

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