“We will be reaching 300 million doses by July 2021,” Poonawalla said. “In the first one or two months the offtake would be slow. Once the logistics works out well, the roll-out we can expect in January 2021.”
Speaking on the approval for the Covishield vaccine, Poonawalla said, there will be good news from the UK very soon. Emergency use licensure should come in end of December or early January and simultaneously we hope to get that in India too, Poonawalla said. “All the data has been submitted in India and the UK. We must respect the process of the regulators, who are evaluating data and documentation. Nobody wants to compromise on the safety and efficacy. SII, Oxford and AstraZeneca want to adhere to the highest levels.”
There was no concern of any kind and enough time had to be given as the regulators review the data from the global multi-centric trials, he added. SII will be manufacturing around 60 million doses a month from the two plants in Pune. The third plant will be ready by the end of March 2021 and will take monthly capacity to 100 million doses, Poonawalla said. Initially, India will have a priority for the doses and there will be plenty of vaccines for India and other COVAX countries, he said. There could be a shortage in the first six months of 2021, but it will ease by August or September 2021 as other vaccine manufacturers will start supplying, Poonawalla said. Around 50% of SII stock would be going to COVAX countries.
Apart from the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, SII is also working on two of its own Covid-19 vaccine candidates. “Our vaccine is to be launched in January 2022. We are staring at Phase-I trials in UK with Codagenix. There is another one RBD vaccine with SpyBiotech which is in Phase II trials,” Poonawalla said.
SII on Monday launched India’s first indigenously developed pneumococcal vaccine called Pneumosil, that has been developed through a decade-long collaboration with PATH and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is tailor-made for India.
Dr Rajeev Dhere, chief scientist at SII, said the new Pneumosil vaccine has a lot of importance for kids and infants as there is no Covid-19 vaccine made anywhere in the world for kids. Pneumonia is an outcome of the viral infection and as we do not have any Covid-19 vaccine for infant population so it becomes all the more important to protect children from this secondary infection, he said. Vaccinating children with this Pneumococcal vaccine will help avoid secondary complications like pneumonia and it is more relevant in the current circumstances, Dr Dhere said. Three shots of the vaccine would give kids protection.
Poonawalla said the ministry of health and family welfare has floated a tender for the Pnumococcal vaccine. “We hope to have coverage of 70-80% over next two to three years and bringing down mortality dramatically. The vaccine is roughly at half the price of some imported vaccines and will cost $10 in the private market and $3 in the government tenders,” he said. There are around one lakh deaths every year in India because of pneumonia. With high coverage, the country could avert 60,000 to 70,000 deaths, he said. With this launch, SII has become the only world’s third supplier of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.