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‘Does the govt have Rs 80,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccines?’: SII’s Adar Poonawalla asks – Hindustan Times

Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the Serum Institute of India which is conducting trials of Covid-19 vaccine candidates, on Saturday raised questions regarding the country’s plan to produce and distribute shots against the coronavirus disease.

A phase III trial of the vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is underway in India as part of a production and testing deal with Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).

“Quick question: will the Government of India have 80,000 crores available over the next one year? Because that is what the Ministry of Health needs to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle,” Poonawalla tweeted. 

“I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide, vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution,” he said.

Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker by the number of doses produced, is working on several vaccine candidates against the coronavirus disease – including potentially mass-producing the one from AstraZeneca-Oxford University that has garnered global headlines – as well as developing its own.

US biotech firm Codagenix Inc said on Tuesday that Serum Institute of India has started manufacturing its potential Covid-19 vaccine and it expects to begin the early-stage human trial of the vaccine by the end of 2020 in the UK. Serum Institute will develop Codagenix’s CDX-005, which is delivered intranasally rather than via injection.

Three more India-made Covid-19 vaccines are set to enter human trials, according to an official of the Center’s department of biotechnology that is supporting the development of several experimental coronavirus vaccines in the country.

The new vaccine candidates are from Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, Biological E and Bharat Biotech, which has developed one of the two already in clinical trials. The fifth Indian vaccine candidate to clear preclinical phases is by Zydus Cadila.

More than 150 potential vaccines are being developed and tested globally, with 38 in human trials, and candidates from Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca Plc are already in late-stage trials.