Covid-19 vaccine: Serum Institute to receive $150 million support from Gates Foundation

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Updated: Aug 08, 2020 11:10 AM

Coronavirus vaccine: SII, owned by the Pune-based Poonawalas, is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume and is working on multiple Covid-19 vaccines.

SII has received approval from DCG to conduct Phase 2 and 3 human trials for the the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine project.SII has received approval from DCG to conduct Phase 2 and 3 human trials for the the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine project. (Representative image)

Coronavirus vaccine: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide at-risk funding of $150 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which will be used to support Serum Institute of India (SII) to speed up the manufacture of potential Covid-19 vaccine candidates. The vaccines will be priced at a maximum of $3 per dose and made available to 92 countries. SII will make and deliver 100 million doses by early 2021 for India and low and middle income countries.

SII, owned by the Pune-based Poonawalas, is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume and is working on multiple Covid-19 vaccines. SII has received approval from DCG to conduct Phase 2 and 3 human trials for the the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine project. This trial will cover 1,600 people in 19 sites across India.

SII has also entered into a supply and license agreement with American biotech company Novavax to manufacture and commercialise Novavax’s corona vaccine in India and a few other markets.

SII had committing its own resources and initiated work on the Covid-19 vaccine in April 2020 hoping the Oxford vaccine human trials would become successful. It is utilising its existing facilities and is now in a position to make five to ten million vaccines a month.

As the vaccines get regulatory approval and WHO prequalification, doses can be produced on a large scale. The funding will support at-risk manufacturing by SII for candidate vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax. The arrangement also provides an option to secure additional doses if needed.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO,SII said the association would help ramp up the efforts to save the lives of millions of people from this dreadful disease. SII has a long history of working with Gavi and pharmaceutical companies to manufacture vaccines for preventing meningitis, severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles. SII now has two vaccine manufacturing deals. Apart form the Oxford and AstraZenca ChAdOx1 vaccine, it has entered into a supply and license agreement with American biotech company, Novavax, to manufacture and commercialize Novavax’s vaccince, NVX-CoV2373 vaccine candidate, for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Both partners will be having a revenue sharing arrangement.

SII has exclusive rights for the Covid-19 vaccine for India and non-exclusive rights during the pandemic period in all countries excluding upper-middle/high-income countries. This vaccine is in early-stage trials.

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