NEW DELHI – The COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and pharma company AstraZeneca would be cheaper than any test in India, the director general of the Serum Institute – one of the biggest vaccine manufacturers worldwide – said on Wednesday.
“It’s gonna be very affordable, it’s gonna be a few hundred rupees, and it’s gonna be cheaper than a test,” in India, Adar Poonawalla, the owner and director general of the institute, told a local broadcaster.
The institute has signed an agreement with the Oxford University and the British-Swiss pharma company to produce and supply 1 billion doses of the future vaccine against the new coronavirus in 92 developing nations.
However, Poonawalla clarified that the vaccine will be sold at substantially higher prices outside India, as the institute will use the revenue to subsidize the prices in India, “especially because our population is so large and we will need a huge batch.”
“Then it will be down to our regulators to finally decide if we will also get down to the emergency license.”
The director said that their goal of producing 100 million doses per day could only be met by the second or third quarter of 2021, with the current capacity being limited to 15 million doses a day.
Poonawalla said that as the anti-COVID vaccine doesn’t need to be stored at a low temperature unlike other vaccines, it is more suitable for India and African or Latin American countries that lack refrigeration capacities and witness high temperatures.
The official expressed optimism over the results of the clinical trials of the antidote being carried out in the United Kingdom and India.
He said that the vaccine was producing an immune response in the volunteers, both for the antibodies and T-sales – loaded with long-term immunity – including in senior citizens, the most vulnerable population.
He said that the vaccine, once ready, would consist of two doses administered with a gap of one month in-between, insisting that it was “very safe” and would not cause any problems, while rejecting concerns over the reports of adverse effects on some volunteers.
India continued to be the second worst affected country by the pandemic, only behind the United States, with around 7.9 million cases – including 43,893 infections reported in the last 24 hours – and 120,010 deaths so far.