Adar Poonwalla
Adar Poonwalla

The CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII) Adar Poonawalla has warned of shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine for all till 2024.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Adar Poonawalla, said that pharma firms were not ramping up production capacity swiftly to be able to inoculate the world population in less duration. “It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” Poonawalla told the leading daily.

In the interview, Poonawalla estimated a need for close to 15 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine if a two-dose programme. Poonawalla’s assessment “casts serious doubts” on politicians claims of a vaccine by October, and added to fears that large pre-orders from the United States (US) and Europe would leave others at the back of the line, the paper said.

He also expressed worries over distribution in India and said that the process would be difficult as there is an absence of a sophisticated cold chain system to transport the vaccine safely to its 1.4 billion people. “I still don’t see a proper plan on paper to do that [in India] beyond 400m doses,” he told Financial Times.

SII has partnered with five global pharma companies including AstraZeneca to produce 1 billion doses of its vaccine candidate – half of which it has pledged to India; besides partnering with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine.

On August 2, the DCGI had granted permission to the Pune-based SII to conduct Phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccine candidate.

AstraZeneca, the biopharmaceutical giant in a tie-up with the Oxford University to produce the vaccine, described the pause of trials as a “routine” one following what was “an unexplained illness”. But, AstraZeneca and Oxford University later resumed clinical trials for coronavirus vaccine.

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