Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Thursday, Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be available for healthcare workers and the elderly by February 2021 and for the general public by April.
It will be priced at USD 5-6 with an MRP of ₹1,000 for the two necessary doses once the final trial results are out and the regulatory approval has been sought.
Mr Poonawalla said that the government of India will get the vaccine at a far cheaper price at around USD 3-4 as it will be bought in a large volume. The access to the price will be similar to what COVAX has got. “We are still pricing it far cheaper and more affordable than other vaccines we have in the market today,” he added.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has proven to work very well even in elderly people, however, he mentioned that it will take another month-and-a-half for the efficacy and immunogenicity trial results to be out.
“It has induced a good T-cell response, which is an indicator for your long-term immunity and antibody response but then again, time will only tell if these vaccines are going to protect you in the long term. Nobody can answer that for any of the vaccines today,” Mr Poonawalla said.
Owing to budget, infrastructure, logistics the initial production will be for limited use for the frontline workers, healthcare workers and elderly people and children, however, will have to wait. “We want to vaccinate the elderly people and others who are the most vulnerable first. Once we have enough safety data to go in on children, we can recommend it for children too” Mr Poonawalla said.
Approval from the UK authorities and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA) is underway and soon after SII will apply to the drug controller for emergency use authorisation in India.
The SII plans to produce about 10 crore doses of vaccine for February which is affordable, safe and can be stored at a temperature ranging between two to eight degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, US expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said that data from two Covid-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, is solid. Large scale trials of The BioNTech/Pfizer showed that their jabs were around 95 per cent effective against Covid-19.
“The process of the speed did not compromise at all safety nor did it compromise scientific integrity. It was a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines which allowed us to do things in months that actually took years before,” Dr Anthony Fauci told AFP.
These developments have raised hope for an end to the pandemic which broke out in China late last year.