The Serum Institute of India will apply for emergency use license of its coronavirus vaccine Covishield, Adar Poonawalla, the institute's CEO, said at a video press conference on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Serum Institute of India and examined its manufacturing facility. Modi and Poonawalla discussed the plan on Covishield vaccine's distribution in India.
"In the next two weeks, we will apply for the emergence use. We will have to wait and see when we get the permission," Poonawalla said.
Poonawalla said Covishield, which is based on the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, would be first distributed in India and then in the countries participating in the WHO-led COVAX facility, mainly African countries. He also offered support to
"The United Kingdom and the European market will be supplied by AstraZeneca company and Oxford. If they need our assistance to expand manufacturing facility, we are always ready to support them," the businessman added.
According to the CEO, the Indian government did not inform him in writing how many vaccine doses it would purchase, but the Health Ministry indicated that the country would need 300-400 million doses by mid-2021. The institute's current manufacturing capacity is 50-60 million doses per month with the outlook to reach 100 million doses by January 2021, the CEO said.
COVAX is a component of the global ACT Accelerator facility whose aim is to bring together and make equitably accessible all global developments in the diagnostics, treatment and vaccines against COVID-19. The COVAX facility is responsible for the equitable access to vaccines both for countries which can afford it and those in need of assistance.
India is underway with clinical trials of three coronavirus vaccines at the moment, with Covishield about to begin phase 3 trials on a par with the ZycovD vaccine by pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila. The COVAXIN vaccine by pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech has already begun phase 3 clinical trials.