29 Oct 2020: Oxford's coronavirus vaccine could be available by December: Adar Poonawalla
In a welcome piece of development, Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Wednesday that the coronavirus vaccine, being developed by Oxford University, could be available for use in India by December 2020.
This, however, will depend on the data from the UK and approvals from the Drugs Controller General Of India, he said.
Here's more on this.
Statement: A lot depends on UK trials, indicated Poonawalla
The Oxford vaccine has shown promising results in the early trials.
On the expected timeline, Poonawalla said, "If we don't go for an emergency license, our trials should be over by December and then we can, maybe we can launch in India in January subject to the UK trial also being completed which it is on the verge on being completed."
Plans: Poonawalla is even thinking about applying for emergency license
Poonawalla said if the UK releases its study in the next two weeks, and the vaccine is found to be safe, "then we can, after two-three weeks, apply to the Indian regulator to look at a possible emergency license if that's what the government of India wants."
He said that review will take somewhere around two-three weeks, making the vaccine's availability by December possible.
Doses: SII targeting 100 million doses by Q2-Q3 of 2021
Speaking about the general availability, the 39-year-old said the target is to make 100 million doses ready by the second or third quarter of 2021.
He revealed two doses of the vaccine, dubbed as Covishield in India, will have to be administered, within a gap of 28 days.
About the cost, he said the vaccine will be cheaper than RT-PCR or antigen tests.
Fact: Conversations with government on finances going well: Poonawalla
"It'll be a few hundred rupees and it's going to be way cheaper than even a (coronavirus) test. The government will take most of that load on, financially, and that conversation is going on very well," he went on.
Safety: Vaccine working well in the elderly group: Poonawalla
Poonawalla also said the vaccine has been found to be safe so far, working well even on the elderly.
"It will give a slightly different response but it seems at the moment we're going to get a response both in the young and healthy, and the elderly," he said.
However, he added that it would take almost two years to conclude on the efficacy.
Fact: Much wasn't said about long-term immunity
"It's only after a year or two that we see vaccinated patients, or people whatever, be protected when they are exposed to the virus, that we will know the vaccine has given you that long term immunity," Poonawalla explained, adding that indicators are positive.
Details: Decision on emergency authorization could be taken later
Meanwhile, sources told TOI that a decision on emergency authorization will be taken closer to the completion of the third-stage trials. The government is hoping that like the Oxford one, other vaccines would also be available soon.
The government is also working on a distribution plan.
On Thursday, India's coronavirus tally touched 8,040,203 and the death toll stands at 120,563.