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Serum Institute may supply 400 million doses to Gavi-Covax

By Sohini Das
January 19, 2021 09:25 IST
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Serum Institute already has two deals of 100 million each to supply the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Novavax vaccine to Gavi-Covax at $3 per dose, reports Sohini Das.

IMAGE: A vial containing COVISHIELD, the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, January 12, 2021. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters
 

The world's largest vaccine maker (by dosages), Serum Institute of India, is likely to finalise a deal with Gavi-Covax for supplying around 400 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the next few weeks, according to sources.

While Serum Institute did not wish to comment, people in the know said talks were on to finalise a supply agreement for 300 million-400 million doses of the vaccine.

Serum Institute already has two deals of 100 million each to supply the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Novavax vaccine to Gavi-Covax at $3 per dose.

The Pune-based firm had also received risk funding of around $300 million from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the same.

When these deals were signed, the agreement had an option to further get into supply arrangements of up to 900 million doses eventually.

The supply deal of 400 million doses would be apart from the already existing deal.

However, it is not clear when Serum Institute would be able to start supplying to Covax as it has to first supply to the Indian government.

According to sources, Serum Institute may be able to start supplying to Covax around March-April.

It received a restricted emergency use approval from India's drug regulator for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on January 3.

This does not allow Serum to sell the vaccine in the private market and also export to private contractors overseas.

It can, however, export if a country chooses to buy it for its national immunisation programme.

IMAGE: Officials unload boxes containing vials of COVISHIELD outside a vaccination storage centre in Ahmedabad, January 12, 2021. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

The company has 50 million doses of packaged vaccine at its Hadapsar plant in Pune and another 50 million doses are ready to be packed.

The firm can make 60 million-70 million doses a month now and can touch a capacity of 100 million doses per month once the third plant (adjacent to the existing site) becomes fully operational.

It is learnt that for now the government is looking at procuring 20 million doses from Serum Institute.

Covax is the ambitious initiative set up by the World Health Organization along with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

It was launched in April last year by WHO, the European Commission, and France to counter the pandemic, and the idea is to ensure equitable distribution of vaccine across the globe.

All participating countries in Covax, regardless of their income levels, will have equal access to the Covid vaccine and Covax aims to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021.

Serum Institute, which is already a global supplier to Gavi, CEPI, and other international procurement agencies, is likely to play a key role in supplying of vaccine to Covax.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

 

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Sohini Das
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