According to a company official of , the world’s largest producer of vaccines, the Serum Institute of India , is planning to invest USD 100 million on a potential vaccine for COVID-19, being developed at Oxford University. The organization established in Pune, has collaborated with AstraZeneca, a British bio-pharmaceutical corporation mammoth, to ensure a stable supply to India and other low- and middle-income countries of the AZD1222 vaccines.
“Our manufacturing facility is ready and we plan to start production in two months. We are spending more than USD 100 million for this facility. Till the trials are completed successfully for safety and efficacy, vaccines will not be distributed either in India or anywhere else in the world,” Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, Serum Institute of India (SII), said.
With high hopes the company is planning to mass produce up to a million units, and is planning to stockpile the same at personal risk. According to the company when it comes to determine how many units India is likely to get in the first phase, they commented that it might be too early too comment. “However, if the vaccine trials succeed, India will gain access to the doses as it will also be the requirement of the Government of India. And we are certain that everybody will respect if the substantial volumes go to India,” he added.
According to their website, Serum Institute of India was founded in 1966 by Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla with the aim of manufacturing life-saving immuno-biologicals, which were in shortage in the country and imported at high prices. Thereafter, several life-saving biologicals were manufactured at prices affordable, and now is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold globally (more than 1.5 billion doses) which includes Polio vaccine as well as Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines. It is estimated that about 65% of the children in the world receive at least one vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute. Vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute are accredited by the World Health Organization, Geneva and are being used in around 170 countries across the globe in their national immunization programs, saving millions of lives throughout the world.
Serum Institute of India is ranked as India’s No. 1 biotechnology company, manufacturing highly specialized life saving biologicals like vaccines using cutting edge genetic and cell based technologies, antisera and other medical specialties.
Serum Institute of India also has plans and is working on developing a vaccine with USA based firm Codagenix, Poonawalla recently said that at present, the firm is undergoing pre-clinical trials (animal trial phase) and hope to progress to the human trial phase by September/October.
“The aim is to make the vaccine over the next 1.5-2 years to help combat the novel corona-virus. With the combined efforts of our partner Codagenix, we are optimistic that we will be able to provide a viable and effective vaccine for mass use,” Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, Serum Institute of India (SII), said.
SII along with Oxford and Codagenix is also working with an Austria-based firm, Themis and two other promising candidates to develop an effective and affordable vaccine for COVID-19.At least half a dozen attempts to build a coronavirus vaccine are underway worldwide but the ones in Oxford are considered one of the most assuring and promising ones. A vaccine will be a much needed intervention that can bring the loss of lives caused by the infections, to a complete halt.