Oxford COVID-19 vaccine may hit the Indian market by the end of the year if successful, says CEO of world’s largest vaccine manufacturer

A health official collects a swab sample for rapid antigen test of the COVID-19 disease at a government health centre in North East Delhi BCCL
  • The Serum Institute of India (SII) hopes the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Indian markets by the end of the year.
  • Last month, SII signed a deal with AstraZeneca to exclusively manufacture the Oxford vaccine for India.
  • SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told The Tribune that the vaccine is currently in Phase II of clinical trials.
The Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, which is reportedly safe for people with weak immunity, may be available in the market by the end of the year, according to the Serum Institute of India (SII) — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told The Tribune that clinical trials of the vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford — called AstraZeneca — have progressed to Phase III. “I hope that AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine will be available towards the end of the year,” he said based on the results highlighting that more than a 100 vaccine candidates are currently at different stages of clinical trials.

Last month, on June 13, SII signed the deal with AstraZeneca to exclusively manufacture for India and countries in the Gavi Vaccine Alliance. SII will supply one billion doses for low and middle-income countries, with a commitment to provide 400 million doses before the end of 2020.


Safe for people with weak immunity
Professor Saraf Gilbert from Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Medicine recently told ambassadors of UN member states that the vaccine is safe even for people with a weak immune system. “Because it is still a live virus, it is good at inducing a strong immune response after vaccination,” she said.

According to AstraZeneca, the vaccine may not work but the company is progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing despite the risk. 5,000 volunteers have begun participating in Brazil’s first clinical trials of the Oxford vaccine.

“We plan to start production in nearly two months and have invested more than $100 on this facility,” Poonawalla told the Tribune. If the risk pays off, Poonawalla promises the vaccine will be affordable.


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