The COVID-19 vaccine produced by India’s Serum Institute is likely to be ready by December this year. The first batch of 100 million doses should be available by the second or third quarter of 2021, said Adar Poonawalla, chief of the Pune-based company to the media on Wednesday.
The vaccine, even though might get the government clearances in December, the rollout would still take a few months. Public availability across the country could take up to two months post any government sanction.
Poonawala’s Serum Institute is the world’s largest vaccine maker by the number of doses produced. The firm is working on several vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus – including the one from AstraZeneca-Oxford University, which is ahead of other candidates in the world.
“If we don’t go for an emergency license, our trials should be over by December and then we can maybe launch in India in January subject to the UK trial also being completed which it’s on the verge of being completed,” Mr. Poonawalla said.
“If the UK in the next two weeks were to unblind their study and share the data and be confident that it’s 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.
He revealed that the review could take about two-three weeks, and he reckons that India might have a vaccine by December. “But all these would have to happen and I don’t want to venture a guess whether that would happen or not happen because it’s not my place to do so – that’s for the health ministry officials to decide,” added Poonawala.
Adar said that the vaccine is very safe. Thousands of people have had it in India and abroad and hence the firm is cracking on. It is on track with no safety concerns.
“The vaccine, when we have one, will be a two-dose vaccine. The gap between the two doses will be 28 days,” he said.