Mumbai and Pune to help test vaccine efficacy: Covishield’s Indian manufacturing partner
By the end of August, roughly 4,000 to 5,000 people in Pune and Mumbai will be injected with the vaccine as part of human trials that are scheduled to last over two months, Covishield vaccine’s Indian manufacturing partner - SII said.
Maharashtra is India’s worst COVID hit state. Mumbai and Pune are Maharashtra’s worst COVID affected cities. The high prevalence of COVID-19 infections in these cities could help test the efficacy of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, its local manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) has said.
More importantly, by the end of August, roughly 4,000 to 5,000 people in Pune and Mumbai will be injected with the vaccine as part of trials that are scheduled to last over two months, the SII said.
Oxford University has reported satisfactory progress from the vaccine's test results and is conducting bigger field tests in the UK. Meanwhile, in India, the SII – Oxford University’s manufacturing partner – has to conduct field trials before getting the final nod to ensure they are safe and effective for Indians.
As of Wednesday, while Pune district has over 59,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, Mumbai had 1.03 lakh such cases. Both cities account for almost half the positive cases in Maharashtra and over a 10th of the cases in India.
There are a number of trial sites across Mumbai and Pune that we have shortlisted, as these cities have many hotspots, which will help us understand the efficacy of the vaccine, the company’s chief executive Adar Poonawalla told PTI in an email interview.
He said the company aims to commence the phase-3 trials of the vaccine in India by August after getting the necessary permissions from the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI). The vaccine has been named Covishield.
"The Indian regulatory authorities have aided us in fast-tracking approvals keeping in mind the requisite guidelines of safety and efficacy,” Poonawalla said.
We do not want to rush and would focus only on delivering a viable and effective product for the masses, he said.
The SII is aiming to sell the vaccine for under Rs 1,000 per dose in India.
Poonawalla said the company aims to manufacture 300 to 400 million doses by the year-end, following the success of initial and licensure trials.
He said as part of the agreement with AstraZeneca, SII can manufacture 1 billion doses for India and nearly 70 low and middle-income countries.
He had earlier explained that the COVID-19 vaccine project is a USD 200 million bet, wherein it is investing in production even as the vaccine goes through the trials process, so as to ensure that it can introduce a large volume of the vaccines in the market as soon as the license is received. However, if the vaccine fails, the company will lose the money.
"Our facility is well-equipped with state-of-the-art technology to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine. We plan to start production post regulatory approvals," Poonawala said.