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India preparing 100 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for inoculation programme

Published on 13/11/20 at 12:52pm
Photo by Daniel Paquet from Regina, Canada

India is aiming to have 100 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine ready for an inoculation drive beginning next month.

The population to actually receive the vaccine is dependent on regulatory approval. The Serum Institute of India may receive emergency authorisation to distribute the vaccine by December, if late-stage clinical studies show the vaccine gives sufficient protection from the virus. Forty million doses have already been manufactured in preparation. 

The Serum Institute of India is the world’s biggest vaccine producer by volume, and is producing AstraZeneca’s vaccine as well as multiple others. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is called Covishield in India and has recently completed enrolment for another Phase 3 study to supplement Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials being carried out at 15 different centres across the country. At the end of last month, it had already enrolled 1,600 participants. 

In a press release, the company said: “The promising results of the trials so far give confidence that Covishield could be a realistic solution to the deadly pandemic. Covishield is by far the most advanced vaccine in human testing in India. Based on the Phase 2/3 trial results, the SII with the help of the ICMR will pursue the early availability of this product for India. The SII has already manufactured 40 million doses of the vaccine, under the at-risk manufacturing and stockpiling license from the DCGI.”

The Indian Council of Medical Research has provided funding for the vaccine trials. Commenting on the partnership, Adar Poonawalla, the Chief Executive Officer of the Serum Institute of India, said: “ICMR has played a huge role in coming forward and strengthening India’s fight against COVID-19. The collaboration will further aid us in putting India at the forefront of developing an immunogenic and efficacious vaccine.”

Conor Kavanagh

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