Covid-19 vaccine update: Serum Institute to produce another 100 million vaccine doses

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September 30, 2020 8:15 AM

The funding will help Serum Institute accelerate the manufacturing of vaccines licensed from AstraZeneca and Novavax. This takes the total funding provided to Serum through the Gates Foundation and Gavi collaboration to $300 million.

The vaccines will be priced at a maximum of $3 per dose and made available to 92 countries.

Serum Institute of India will manufacture another 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledging an additional $150 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The funding will help Serum Institute accelerate the manufacturing of vaccines licensed from AstraZeneca and Novavax. This takes the total funding provided to Serum through the Gates Foundation and Gavi collaboration to $300 million.

The vaccines will be priced at a maximum of $3 per dose and made available to 92 countries. Together with the 100 million doses announced in August, the partnership will deliver 200 million doses to India and low and middle-income countries by 2021.

Serum Institute, owned by the Poonawalas, is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume and is working on multiple Covid-19 vaccines. It is conducting Phase 3 human trials for the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, covering 1,600 people at 19 sites across India.

It has also entered into a supply and licence agreement with American biotech company Novavax to manufacture and commercialise its vaccine in India and a few other markets. It is simultaneously working on three other vaccine candidates.

The institute has committed its own resources of around $300-400 million in operational expenditure for manufacturing the Covid-19 Covishield vaccine. This is apart from the cost of using an existing production line and plant facilities. It is gradually ramping up production and expects to manufacture 100 million doses by December. The collaboration will provide upfront capital to Serum Institute to help it increase manufacturing capacity so that once a vaccine gains regulatory approval and WHO pre-qualification, doses can be distributed at scale.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute, said, “At this stage, it is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery. This association is in line with our efforts to see that the future vaccines reaches the remotest part of the world providing full immunisation coverage in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic.”

Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said, “This is vaccine manufacturing for the global South, by the global South, helping us to ensure no country is left behind when it comes to access to a COVID-19 vaccine.”

The momentum for equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines was building and a historic number of countries had already signed up, he said. “No country, rich or poor, should be left at the back of the queue when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines. This collaboration brings us another step closer to achieving this goal,” Berkley said.

The Gavi Covax mechanism has sought $2 billion in initial seed funding to meet part of the cost of procurement for the vaccine doses. AstraZeneca’s vaccine, if successful, will be available to 61 Gavi-eligible countries. Novavax’s candidate, if successful, will be available to all 92 countries supported by the Gavi Covax mechanism. So far, 73 higher-income economies have formally committed to join the collaboration, in addition to the 92 low- and middle-income economies that are eligible for support.

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