New Delhi, 20th November: The coronavirus vaccine maker Serum Institue of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla has said that the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine should be available for the healthcare workers and elderly people by around February 2021 and by April for the general public and will be priced at the maximum of 1,000 for two necessary doses of the public.
Every Indian will get vaccinated probably by 2024 said Adar Poonawalla at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS), 2020.
“It will probably take two or three years for every Indian to get inoculated, not just because of the supply constraints but because you need the budget, the vaccine, logistics, infrastructure, and then, people should be willing to take the vaccine,” said Poonawalla.
Poonawalla said it will be around USD 5-6 per dose with an MRP of around ₹1,000 for the two necessary doses.
“The government of India will be getting it at a far cheaper price at around USD 3-4 because it will be buying in a large volume and get access to the price that is similar to what COVAX has got. We are still pricing is far cheaper and more affordable than other vaccines we have in the market today,” Adar added.
The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is so far proving to work very well even in elderly people, which was a concern earlier.
“It has induced a good T-cell response, which is an indicator for your long-term immunity and antibody response but then again, time will only tell if these vaccines are going to protect you in the long term. Nobody can answer that for any of the vaccines today,” Poonawalla said.
Responding to a question on the safety aspect, he said there have been no major complaints, reactions, or adverse events, adding, “We would need to wait and see. The efficacy and immunogenicity results from the Indian trials will come out in about a month-and-a-half.”
Poonawalla said as soon as the UK authorities and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA) approve it for emergency use, it will apply to the drug controller for emergency use authorization in India.
“But that will be for frontline workers, healthcare workers, and elderly people,” he added.
Children would have to wait a little longer till the safety data is out, but the good news is that COVID-19 is not so bad and serious for them, Poonawalla said.
“Unlike measles pneumonia, this disease is seeming to be less of a nuisance for children but then, they can be carriers and can give the infection to others. We want to vaccinate elderly people first. Once we have enough safety data to go in on children, we can recommend it for children too,” he said.
Poonawalla said the coronavirus vaccine by Oxford was affordable, safe, and could be stored at a temperature of two to eight degrees Celsius, which was an ideal temperature for it to be stored in the cold storages of India. He said the SII planned to make about 10 crore doses a month from February.