“JUST few million doses of vaccine for Coronavirus will not be enough in India. We have committed to manufacture at least one billion doses after getting required approvals. We are in the process of applying for a licence to start clinical trials of the vaccine, after which we’ll start manufacturing the vaccine in large volumes. For that, we might have to hold back our work on other products,” said Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman of Poonawalla Group, which includes the Serum Institute of India (SII).
He was speaking during an online discussion organized by FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO), Pune Chapter in presence of FLO members including Jahnabi Pookhan, National President, Aneeta Sanas, Chairperson, FLO Pune Chapter, Sabina Sanghvi, Past Chairperson and Usha Poonawala, Senior Vice Chairperson among others.
“We have partnered with Oxford University and its partner AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine and our emphasis to make the vaccine more efficacious and safer with no side-effects. The government has promised to grant over one thousand crores for the same and we want to make the vaccine available at the lowest price possible so that even the poor can afford it. Besides India, we also want to make it available in under-develop countries like Africa,” Dr Poonawalla said.
As the Phase 1 of the clinical trial has been done and Phase 2 and 3 are being done in Austria, Poonawalla said that the testing parameters of the vaccine is underway and will be released soon and the vaccine will be ready by December this year.
When asked if there could be any setbacks or failure in terms of productivity and output of the vaccine, Poonawalla, who founded SII in 1966 said, “We have come at a stage, where chances of failure look remote as we are spending more than USD 100 million for this facility. If we get the approvals and trials are completed successfully for safety and efficacy then lots of companies will manufacture the vaccine and India will be the largest producer of the COVID vaccine in the world.”
He also said that the institute has requested the Government of India to give permission to make the first dispensation of the vaccine for its employees who are at high risk of contracting the virus.
He added, “There has been no evidence of the mutation of COVID and the theory should not be taken seriously. Even as the vaccine is yet to be produced, I strongly advocate the use of BCG vaccine for everyone, which is an immunity booster with no side-effects and is better than homoeopathy medicines.”