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Serum Institute of India says that news reports claiming availability of Coronavirus vaccine Covishield in 73 days is misleading

The central government will procure the vaccines directly from Serum Institute of India and has sought 68 crore doses from Serum Institute by June next year.

Serum Institute of India has issued a statement saying that news reports claiming that the country’s first coronavirus vaccine ‘Covishield’ – developed by the Oxford University- AstraZeneca will be commercialised in 73 days is misleading. The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer said that phase-3 trials for the vaccine are still underway, and they will officially confirm it’s availability.

According to reports, a senior official of Serum Institute of India was quoted as saying that the government has given the company a ‘special manufacturing priority license’ and fast-tracked the trial protocol processes to get the trials completed in 58 days. The company has entered into an exclusive agreement with AstraZeneca to sell the vaccine in India and 92 other countries.

“By this, the first dosing will take place today [Saturday] in the final phase [Phase III] and the second dosing will happen after 29 days. The final trial report will be out in another 15 days from the second dosing. By that time, we are planning to commercialise Covishield,” the official was quoted as saying.

The phase III trials of the vaccine began on August 22 in Pune and Mumbai in Maharashtra and Ahmedabad in Gujarat. In this phase, the vaccine will be administered to 1,600 people.

The phase III trials of the vaccine are being handled by the Serum Institute of India. Earlier, the third phase trials were expected to take at least 7-8 months.

Govt to planning immunise for free

The government of India is planning to immunise for free under the National Immunisation Programme (NIP) as is the case with all other vaccines under the programme. The central government will procure the vaccines directly from SII and has sought 68 crore doses from Serum Institute by June next year.

In addition to Serum Institute’s vaccine, trials are also going on for ICMR-Bharat Biotech’s ‘Covaxine‘ and Zydus Cadila’s ‘ZyCoV-D‘ for the country’s first coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine candidates being developed by Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and Zydus Cadila, are in human clinical trials in phase-I and II simultaneously.

Earlier, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had expressed hope saying that India will get a coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year. “The world is working towards discovering a vaccine. 26 vaccine candidates around the world are in the clinical trials phase. Apart from this, there are 139 candidates that are being developed on different levels and in pre-clinical trials,” Union Health Minister had said.

The Minister had said that the vaccine candidates in India have made a little more progress than them. Three of them have reached the first, second and third phases respectively, the Health Minister said.

It may be noted that whichever vaccine is found effective in the world, there is a high possibility that a bulk of it will be manufactured in India. India is the vaccine capital of the world, which makes around 60-70% of the total vaccine manufactured globally. Serum Institute of India is the largest vaccine manufacturer, which has already started manufacturing and stockpiling the Oxford virus, which will be ready to be shipped if the trial is successful. The company plans to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine in one year.

Note: The report has been updated with additional information

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