Vaccine may be ready for use as early as December: Adar Poonawalla

NEW DELHI: The coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca could be ready for use in December itself in India if the government decides to opt for “emergency authorisation” and by January even it doesn’t.

The vaccine, which is also being produced by India’s Serum Institute, could see a batch of 100 million doses being made widely available by the second or third quarter of 2021, Adar Poonawalla, chief of the Pune-based company, told a private news channel on Wednesday.

“If we don’t go for an emergency licence, our trials should be over by December and then we can maybe launch in India in January subject to the UK trial also being completed which it’s on the verge of being completed,” Poonawalla said.

Official sources told TOI on Wednesday that a decision on emergency authorisation will be taken closer to the date of the vaccine clearing the third stage trial it is currently undergoing and will also depend on the Covid-19 situation in India later this year. The source said the timeline offered by Poonawala was accurate and the government hoped that other vaccines would be available soon after.

The first batches of the vaccine will be administered in accordance to the prioritisation plan being drawn up by the Centre after consulting states and experts.

“If the UK, in the next two weeks, were to unblind their study and share the data and be confident that it’s safe, then we can, after two-three weeks, apply to the Indian regulator to look at a possible emergency licence if that’s what the government of India wants,” Poonawala said.

“That review could take about two-three weeks, and then you can have a vaccine by December but all these would have to happen and I don’t want to venture a guess whether that would happen or not happen because it’s not my place to do so, that’s for the health ministry officials to decide,” he added.

Elaborating on the general availability of the vaccine, he said, “We are aiming for 100 million available doses at first. This should be available by Q2-Q3 of 2021.”

Times Of India
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