Once that crucial vaccine to immunise the globe against the novel coronavirus has cleared all its trials, producing it at scale will be an important next step where India will play a major role.
Pune-based Serum Institute of India is playing a central part in this worldwide mission of producing a vaccine against the virus.
Bharat Biotech partnered with the University of Wisconsin Madison and FluGen to make almost 300 million doses of a vaccine for global distribution.
The effectiveness of the vaccine will lie in its mass transmission if there is any hope to counter the pandemic.
India is among the largest manufacturers of generic drugs and vaccines in the world and home to several major vaccine makers with a proven track record of scaling up production of life-saving doses to counter a range of diseases, including polio, measles and meningitis. And, this track record is now set for new heights as the country plays its role in the scale-up of a successful vaccine against COVID-19 discovered anywhere in the world.
Pune-based Serum Institute of India, the world′s largest vaccine manufacturer which produces over 1.5 billion doses and immunises over 65 per cent of the children worldwide, is already playing a central part in this worldwide life-saving mission. It has its own BCG vaccine set for trials and also has important tie-ups in play - with the University of Oxford's ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine undergoing human trials as well as with US biotech major Codadenix.
The company has already started production of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 based on successful clinical trials, just to get a jump start if the human trials come back with a positive nod. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India, decided to put other projects on hold to take this risky step, which may well pay off in the long run. The first batch of around 20-40 million doses is the target set by the company for September-October, while increasing its monthly production capacity along the way.
Besides the scaling up of any vaccines, their cost-effectiveness is also on the company's radar. “We will surely make it affordable, maybe around Rs 1,000 [$13-14],” says Poonawalla.