Serum Institute of India to produce low price COVID-19 vaccines

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New Delhi: Serum Institute of India (SII) has entered into a new landmark partnership with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for COVID-19 vaccines.

This will accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India and low-income countries.

The SII would introduce candidate vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax for COVID-19 at less than Rs 250 per dose in India. It announced on Friday that the Pune-based institute would offer up to 100 million doses at a price capped at $3 for 92 low and middle-income countries (LMIC), including India.

The Serum Institute of India said the vaccines will be available as early as the first half of 2021 after gaining approvals and qualifications from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The SII also said that if successful, Novavax’s candidate will be available to all 92 countries while AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine will be available to 57 Gavi-eligible countries.

The SII will receive an upfront capital of $150 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation via Gavi to enhance the capacity to manufacture and distribute the potential vaccine to candidates on a large scale after gaining regulatory approval from WHO.

Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said India is always at the forefront in delivering low-cost and high-quality medical research.

Dr Bhargava said the ICMR is deeply supportive of the  cutting edge vaccine research and manufacturing prowess. This partnership is a significant step to fight against this global pandemic, he added.

The SII has signed two agreements for the supply of COVID vaccines, the first being AstraZeneca-Oxford’s candidate, for which the company has agreed to produce up to 1 billion doses for low and middle-income countries.

The Oxford University vaccine candidate has received permission to start phase-2 and 3 trials in India last week.

The second agreement is with the US-based Novavax that has granted the company exclusive and non-exclusive licences for development, co-formulation, filling and finishing, registration and commercialization of its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine product for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

A statement by SII said Novavax trials are yet to start in India. The deal, built on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between AstraZeneca and Gavi, guarantees 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine to the wider COVAX Facility, to be supplied upon licensure or prequalification.

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