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COVID-19 Vaccine Likely By September, Says Indian Firm Partnering Oxford

"We have made a jump start on manufacturing" Adar Poonawalla said

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A vaccine for coronavirus may be available in the market as early as the end of September, the chief of the world’s largest vaccine maker has told. The cost, he said, would be roughly around Rs 1,000. “We have made a jump start on the manufacturing by the end of May and if the trials that end by September or October are a success. then we will have a product that we can give to India and the world,” Adar Poonawalla, the chief of Serum Institute of India, told today.

The Pune-based Serum Institute of India is working with scientists in the UK and the US to manufacture a vaccine for the global pandemic that has infected more than 3 million people and cost 209,661 lives.

Most scientists have said a vaccine is not expected in the market before two years or a minimum of 18 months. Asked about the short time frame, Mr Poonawalla said they were also expecting a longer incubation period till they tied up with scientists at the Oxford University.

“We have ourselves said that it (vaccine production) will take till 2021 with Codagenix and other US partners But what happened after that was that about a week ago, we were able to tie up with Oxford University which has progressed a lot and entered human beings,” he told.

The human trial of the Oxford’s vaccine — one of more than 100 being developed across the world – started on April 23. Clinical trials of seven others – some of them located in China and the US – are also being held, reported news agency AFP, quoting the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Asked about the cost factor, Mr Poonawalla said it is too early to put an exact figure to it. But it would come to around Rs 1,000, factoring in projects that were put on the back burner to push forward with this one.

The Serum Institute chief said he has faith in the Oxford team, which was successful in coming up with a vaccine for the Ebola virus. His organisation also had a tie-up with them for the malaria vaccine, said Mr Poonawalla.

Besides Oxford, his firm also has a tie-up with US firm Codagenix, which, he said, is using a live attenuated virus to develop its vaccine and is conducting animal trials with it. “It is a couple of months behind Oxford,” he added.

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