Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine maker, is ramping up production of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 shot to have 100 million doses ready by December for an inoculation drive expected to begin across India that same month. SII and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are collaborating on the clinical trials of the vaccine in the country. While ICMR has funded the clinical trial site fees, SII is taking care of other expenses for Covishield. At present, SII and ICMR are conducting II/III clinical trial of the vaccine at 15 different centres across the country.
"If final-stage trial data show AstraZeneca's candidate gives effective protection from the virus, the Serum Institute of India -- which is partnered to produce at least one billion doses - may get emergency authorization from New Delhi by December," Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of the Pune-based firm was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. He also said that "initial amount will go to India".
SII has already manufactured 40 million doses of the vaccine, under the at-risk manufacturing and stockpiling licence from Drugs Controller General of India. The institute also aims to begin manufacturing Novavax's contender soon.
"We were a bit concerned it was a big risk," Poonawalla said, adding that both AstraZeneca and Novavax's shots "are looking pretty good".
Covishield has been developed at the SII Pune laboratory with a master seed from Oxford University/Astra Zeneca. The vaccine made in the UK is currently being tested in large efficacy trials in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and the US. Since the results of the trials so far are promising, it is quite possible that Covishield could emerge as a realistic solution to the pandemic.