Oxford Coronavirus Vaccine Covidshield Production in India
The production of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine named Covidshield (one of the frontrunner COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the world) has started in India. Initial estimates suggest at least one billion doses of the vaccine will be produced in India, which would make the country the largest producer of the COVID-19 vaccine on the planet.
Covidshield Production in India
The Oxford-Astrazeneca joint-collaboration vaccine is being manufactured on a large scale at the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune, Maharashtra. The early production has commenced in order to meet the commercial requirements for Phase-3 of the vaccine’s clinical trials.
Suresh Jadhav, Executive Director of the SII, revealed the company intends to create 2-3 million (20-30 lakh) doses of the vaccine by the end of August 2020. And by the end of this year, the target will be to produce at least 300 million (30 crores) doses, Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman of the Poonawalla Group (which includes the SII), told The Hindu.
In a recent interview with The Times of India, Dr. Cyrus’ son and CEO of SII, Adar Poonawalla, insisted that his company intends to keep the vaccine prices below Rs 1000 to make it affordable for everyone. He also expressed his intentions to make it available across 70 other low- and middle-income countries.
Current Status of Covidshield Vaccine
Phase-1 of Covidshield’s clinical trials is complete, and it has shown promising results. Phases-2 and Phase-3 are currently underway in Austria, and at this rate of developments, the final vaccine is expected to be ready by December 2020.
Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla further revealed that SII themselves are in the process of applying for a license to start clinical trials in India. Once they receive the necessary permissions from the Drug Controller General of India, the company will commence the Phase 3 trials in Maharashtra by August 2020. Mumbai and Pune cities (the two COVID-19 hotspots in the state with 1.03 lakh and 59,000 confirmed cases as of July 22 respectively) have been shortlisted for the clinical trials. Trial sites will be built across these cities, and by the end of August, between 4,000 to 5,000 people will be injected with the vaccine, so as to test its efficacy on the Indian population. These trials are scheduled to last over two months.