Serum Institute to make 3 types of Covid-19 vaccines, hit 250 million doses a month by November

By: |
June 05, 2021 6:13 PM

Serum already has made supply commitments for World Health Organisation (WHO) backed COVAX for a billion doses and these will be made available as and well the Indian government allows.

Serum is making the Sputnik V dose, which happens to be the second dose, the other is the first dose. (Reuters image)Serum is making the Sputnik V dose, which happens to be the second dose, the other is the first dose. (Reuters image)

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), which has been the largest producer of vaccines in India, making the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield – hopes to begin manufacture of two more vaccines – Corovax (made with US-based firm Novavax) and the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. For these, it intends to keep expanding manufacturing capacities and in stages reach up to about 250 million doses a month across these three vaccines. Financial Express Online learns reliably that by July 2021, it hopes to produce 100 million doses a month of Covishield. After September, it will start making 100 million doses a month of Corovax, which is currently in phase three clinical studies and the balance about 50 million doses a month of Sputnik V vaccine by October or November.

For Sputnik vaccine, the company plans to convert an existing facility to suit the making of this vaccine and the output will be supplied back to the Russian Gamaleya Research Institute which developed the vaccine and is offering Serum around $4.5 per dose. It is up to the Russian entity as to who it would like to supply the vaccines.

Serum already has made supply commitments for World Health Organisation (WHO) backed COVAX for a billion doses and these will be made available as and well the Indian government allows.

The picture is still not clear on the legal issues between Serum and AstraZeneca, which had issued a legal notice to Serum for supplies to AstraZeneca but the Indian government had imposed a curb on exports, and apparently, Serum CEO Adar Poonawala was in the UK to sort out this issue.

As far as the making of Sputnik vaccine, Serum is apparently making half of the complete vaccine dose or one dose of Sputnik V. The Sputnik vaccine is administered in two different set of doses . One dose is prepared out of spike number five or Ad5– hence Sputnik V and the other dose is prepared out of spike number 26 or Ad26. Serum is making the Sputnik V dose, which happens to be the second dose, the other is the first dose.

While the government order that 50 per cent of the total production has to be earmarked for the Union government, 25 per cent for the states and the remaining 25 per cent for hospitals and open market, it is learnt that even for Covishield, no new orders have been placed so far buy the Indian government beyond the month of July. The Indian government had placed an order for supply of 150 million doses between May and July from Serum Institute. So, Serum may have greater freedom in supply of other vaccines in the open market and for exports and therefore greater flexibility in terms of pricing. Though, it may well be that the government may place additional orders for vaccines from Serum as there is still time and the government will need to respond by the end of the month to the questions raised by the Supreme Court of India on the government’s vaccine procurement and on administration process.

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