CEO of vaccine maker Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla, said on Thursday that the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be available for healthcare workers and the elderly around February 2021 and by April for the general public, and its price will be Rs 1000 maximum for two doses necessary for the public, depending on the final results of the tests and regulatory approvals.
Probably by 2024 every Indian will be vaccinated, he said.
“It will probably take two or three years for every Indian to get vaccinated, not only because of the supply constraints, but because you need the budget, the vaccine, the logistics, the infrastructure and then people should. be ready to take the vaccine. are the factors that make it possible to vaccinate 80 to 90% of the population.
“It will be 2024 for everyone, if they are ready to take a two-dose vaccine, to be vaccinated,” Poonawalla said.
When asked how much the public would get it for, he said it will be around 5-6 USD per dose with an MRP of around Rs 1000 for the two doses needed.
“The Indian government will get it at a much cheaper price, around $ 3-4 USD, because it will buy in bulk and have access to a price similar to COVAX. We are still setting it. Much cheaper and more affordable. than other vaccines that we have on the market today, ”Poonawalla said.
When asked about the vaccine’s effectiveness, he said the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine has so far proven to be very effective even in the elderly, which was a concern earlier.
“It induced a good T cell response, which is an indicator of your long-term immunity and antibody response, but then again, time will only tell if these vaccines will protect you in the long term. No one can answer. than any of the vaccines today, ”Poonawalla said.
Responding to a question on safety, he said there had been no complaints, reactions or major adverse events, adding: “We will have to wait and see. The efficacy and immunogenicity results of the Indian trials will be released in about a month and a half. “
Asked when the IBS will apply for an emergency clearance, Poonawalla said that as soon as UK authorities and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA) approve it for emergency use, he will ask the Medicines controller an emergency use authorization in India.
“But it will be for limited use by frontline workers, healthcare workers and the elderly,” he added.
Children should wait a little longer until the safety data is released, but the good news is that Covid-19 is not that bad and that bad for them, Poonawalla said.
“Unlike measles pneumonia, which is fatal, this disease seems to be less bothersome for children, but then they can be carriers and pass the infection on to others.
“We want to immunize the elderly and others who are most vulnerable first. Once we have enough safety data for children, we can recommend it to children as well,” he said.
Poonawalla said the Oxford vaccine is affordable, safe and stored at two to eight degrees Celsius, which is an ideal temperature to keep in cold rooms in India.
He said the IBS plans to do about 10 crore in doses per month starting in February.
Regarding the number of doses that would be supplied to India, Poonawalla said talks are still ongoing and no agreement has been reached in this regard.
“India wants around 400 million doses by July. I don’t know if it will take everything at the Serum Institute. We are preparing to offer this type of volume to India and have another 100 million to offer to COVAX. by July and August. No deal so far, ”he said.
Poonawala said the SII is not making any deals with other countries at the moment, with India being its priority.
“We haven’t signed and committed anything else beyond Bangladesh yet. We really don’t want to partner with many countries at this time because we won’t have enough stocks to deliver. .
“We want to treat India first as a priority and manage Africa at the same time and then help other countries,” he said.
Poonawalla said 30 to 40 crore doses of the Oxford vaccine would be available by the first quarter of 2021.
At another summit session, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said there were discussions between Pfizer and the Indian government, but not much with Moderna.
“This is going to be a huge challenge when it comes to the Pfizer vaccine, given that it needs a cold chain of minus 70 degrees Celsius,” he said and pinned hopes on the vaccines that are out. different stages of testing in India.
On the availability of a Covid-19 vaccine, Guleria said the percentage of the population to be inoculated will depend on the number of vaccines getting regulatory approvals and the number of vaccines they produce.
He further stated that the coronavirus entered the lungs without making a person symptomatic.
“We have asymptomatic people and you can see plaques directly in their lungs on a CT scan. It really bypasses a person’s defense mechanism, which means that not only do you have the virus in your nose or throat, but it went straight into your A virus that can do this is something we need to be wary of, ”Guleria said.
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