File Photo
File Photo

Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said that the institute is in the process of applying for the emergency use authorisation of Covishield COVID-19 vaccine in the next two weeks.

Covishield is the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine candidate developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with the Oxford University, and is currently being tested and developed by the SII in India as one of the frontrunners in the global vaccine race.

The vaccine has shown 70% efficacy in its interim analysis and Poonawalla had earlier said that the shot is likely to be ready by the end of December this year.

The SII CEO had also stated in an interview that 40 million doses of the vaccine have already been produced and that the shot will be available at less than Rs 1000 when it hits the markets.

On this day, Adar Poonawalla said that while there is no final word on how many doses of the Covishield vaccine the Government of India will be purchasing, the "indication" is that it would be 300-400 million doses by July 2021.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier in the day toured three cities to review the COVID-19 vaccine development, with his visit to the SII in Pune aimed at reviewing the progress of the vaccine candidate for coronavirus infection and to know about its launch, production and distribution mechanism.

He visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and Serum Institute of India in Pune.

Modi interacted with scientists at the Serum Institute and had a walkabout of the facility, taking stock of vaccine development work being carried out there.

At the facility, Modi was received by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of Poonwalla Group, and his son and SII CEO Adar Poonawalla. They briefed Modi about the work being carried out at SII.

"We have built the largest pandemic level facility in Pune and our new campus in Mandri. That was also showcased to the Prime Minister with a tour around the facility and a lot of detailed discussions," said Adar Poonawalla.

He also added that the Prime Minister is "extremely knowledgable" now on vaccines and that he already knew of details more than what they expected.

"The Prime Minister is extremely knowledgable now on vaccines and vaccine production. We were amazed at what he already knew. There was very little to explain to him, except for going into detail on different variable vaccines and the challenges that they may face ahead," Serum Institute's CEO said.

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