Covid-19 Vaccine India: Covishield dispatch for vaccine drive a historic moment, says SII CEO Adar Poonawalla

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January 12, 2021 6:32 PM

Coronavirus Vaccine Latest Update India: Currently, 1.11 crore doses of the vaccine are being rolled out in the country and there are plans to provide 5 to 6 crore more doses by February, he added.

Poonawalla said the SII has offered the vaccine to the Government of India (GoI) at a special price of Rs 200.Covid-19 Vaccine in India: Poonawalla said the SII has offered the vaccine to the Government of India (GoI) at a special price of Rs 200.

Covid-19 Vaccination in india Update: Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Tuesday said 1.11 crore doses of Covishield vaccine are currently being rolled out in India and there are plans to provide 5 to 6 crore more doses by February even as he described the dispatch of the vaccines for the January 16 national inoculation drive a “proud and historic” moment. Early Tuesday, the first consignment of the vaccines rolled out of the SII facility in Pune for transport to various locations in the country. Speaking to the select media persons at the SII facility, Poonawalla said the real challenge lies in taking the vaccine to the “common man, to the vulnerable groups of people and to healthcare workers”. “Our trucks left the SII facility early morning and now the vaccine is being distributed in the entire country. This is a proud and historic moment as scientists, experts and all other stake-holders took great efforts while making this vaccine in less than a year,” he said. Poonawalla said the SII has offered the vaccine to the Government of India (GoI) at a special price of Rs 200.

“This is one of the most affordable vaccines in the world and we are offering it to the GoI at a special price just to support the Prime Minister’s vision and to support the ‘aam aadami’ of our country,” he added. He also said that once the SII get the requisite permission, the vaccine will be made available in the private market at the cost Rs 1,000. Poonawalla further said the SII is not only providing the vaccine in India, “but it is also committed to provide it to other countries who are looking at India at this point”. Covishield is developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the SII. A ‘puja’ was performed before the three temperature controlled trucks rolled out of Serum Institute gates shortly before 5 am and moved towards the Pune airport, about 15 km away, from where the vaccines were flown across India. Poonawalla further said, “the Government of India will buy the vaccine at the rate of Rs 200 per dose for 10 crore doses, and thereafter, the cost of the vaccine will go up. The vaccine we are offering to the government will be given to the common man, the poor, vulnerable groups and healthcare workers free of cost”.

The SII has the stock of 8 crore doses ready at the present moment, the CEO said. Currently, 1.11 crore doses of the vaccine are being rolled out in the country and there are plans to provide 5 to 6 crore more doses by February, he added. “We have given priority to India. We will provide as many doses as the nation demands. Rest of the vaccine, we will export. We are getting request from Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Africa, and there are COVAX partners also,” said Poonawalla. He also added that the SII’s production capacity is bigger than the world and that is why the company is under the maximum pressure (to manufacture).

“Smaller companies are taking time to bring out the vaccines. Their supply will be scaled up in Q2 and Q3. Till that time, the world will be dependent on us and we will make everyone happy by distributing the vaccine,” he said. Poonawalla further said the SII will soon start exporting the vaccine to other countries. Responding to a query on the safety of the vaccine, he said all COVID-19 vaccines have passed all the safety parameters. “DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) will not provide the license to a vaccine unless its efficacy and safety are not proved. All Indian vaccines are safe, effective, and it is advisable that people should take them.

“People have the right to question but I would ask people to study it, see the science behind it and it is always advisable that the vaccines should be taken to fight the disease,” he said. Poonawalla said when the manufacturing of Covishiled started in March, 2020, no one predicted that the SII would come out with the vaccine in less than a year. “Generally, it takes 3 to 4 years to develop a vaccine,” he added. “A lotof countries are writing to the PMO and India to supply the vaccine from SII. We are trying to keep everyone happy but we have to take care of our people and population,” he added.

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