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Supply of COVID-19 vaccines may meet, even outstrip demand in India by Q3: AstraZeneca chief

The pandemic has shown how resilient healthcare is, and how important pillar biopharmaceutical industry is as part of the healthcare ecosystem.

January 29, 2021 / 02:38 PM IST
Astrazeneca Pharma

Astrazeneca Pharma

The supply of vaccines for COVID-19 may meet up or even outstrip the demand in India by the third quarter of this year, given the number of vaccines being developed in the country and its capacity, AstraZeneca Pharma India Country President and MD Gagan Singh said on Friday.

The pandemic has shown how resilient healthcare is, and how important pillar biopharmaceutical industry is as part of the healthcare ecosystem.

Therefore, support for academic research, a vibrant healthcare system that embraces innovation is going to be very critical, he added.

"I am very hopeful given our enterprise, given the number of vaccines India is developing and the capacity available, hopefully in my own personal read, by quarter 3, we may actually have a situation where supply will meet up the demand or even outstrip,” Singh said.

We must compliment our government also in its efforts towards getting the country in putting the plan for vaccination together and now in the rollout, he added.

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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For any vaccine to be meaningful in the current pandemic, it has to be made available broadly, equitably and timely.

That is why AstraZeneca globally went around having supply agreements in place towards 3 billion doses covering 160 countries and more importantly at no profit during the pandemic, Singh said.

AstraZeneca’s partnership in India with Serum Institute is a sub-licensing agreement of its molecule and they (Serum Institute) bring in close to 1 billion doses which are extremely important not only for India but also for low and middle income countries, he added.

Talking about the safety and efficacy of the company’s vaccine, Singh said that in the month of December, Lancet enabled us to share a full disclosure of the Oxford programme interim analysis.

The results clearly showed that the vaccine is effective against COVID-19, and in particular with no severe infection and no hospitalisations in the vaccine group, he said, adding that this data was for over 11,000 plus volunteers across multiple countries.

He was speaking in a session on healthcare at a virtual event organised by TiE Delhi-NCR.

At the session, Apollo Hospitals Joint MD Sangita Reddy said that the vaccine is an incredible validation of the capability of India’s manufacturing sector, it is a huge referendum on the global cooperation of sciences and manufacturers to bring something to humanity.

first published: Jan 29, 2021 02:37 pm