Covishield: Could India Get a Covid-19 Vaccine as Soon as December?


Covishield: Could India Get a Covid-19 Vaccine as Soon as December?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The race for the coronavirus vaccine is on. The World Health Organization (WHO) is tracking around 140 vaccine candidates, out of which 23 are in various phases of human clinical trials, including one from Moderna and AstraZeneca Plc. The Oxford-AstraZeneca-backed vaccine has been a frontrunner, showcasing encouraging results. It has been found to be “safe” in phase I/II clinical studies and is now in the third phase of human trials.

In a new development, the vaccine is now being manufactured at the Pune-based Serum Institute of India under the name Covishield. The Serum Institute of India plans to not only make the vaccine affordable for India, but also other developing nations around the world.

Covishield is essentially the same vaccine – ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 – that is being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. After an approval from the ICMR, Serum Institute of India has entered into a partnership with the Oxford vaccine group to mass produce the vaccine formula for India and other countries around the world.

“Serum Institute of India has entered a manufacturing partnership with AstraZeneca to produce and supply 1 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University. These vaccines will be for India and middle- and low-income countries across the world (GAVI countries),” Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India told news agency PTI.

In an interview to India Today, Poonawalla said that 300-400 million doses of ‘Covishield’ will be ready by December. He also confirmed that the price of the vaccine will be capped at ₹1,000 per dose, keeping in mind that it will be needed by people of all economic classes. He also stated that chances are many people might not have to pay for it at all as they’ll get vaccinated through the central- and state-funded vaccine programmes, free of cost.

Adar Poonawalla has stated they’re currently seeking approvals for conducting Phase III trials of the vaccine in India, for which, over 5,000 people have enrolled themselves. The Covishield vaccine trials based on the Oxford vaccine formula are predicted to commence by the end of August in India.

Finally, there seems to be a light emerging at the end of this wretched tunnel, which is the year, 2020.