Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India — which is helping produce a vaccine for Covid-19 developed by Oxford, said this is not the time to make money from a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, which has caused a global pandemic. Speaking to India Today TV Adar Poonawalla said that the need of the hour is to make a Covid-19 vaccine accessible to as many as possible. We won’t be patenting any vaccine we produce nor will we take royalties, he also said said.
A team of scientists at the University of Oxford are working to produce a vaccine to combat Covid-19. Adar Poonawala’s Serum Institute has partnered with the Oxford vaccine project as one of the seven global institutions behind manufacturing the vaccine.
Adar Poonawala was also joined by Oxford professor Dr Adrian Hill, who is leading the lead developing the vaccine, in the interview. Dr Adrian Hill said the Oxford University is starting its clinical trials for the Covid-19 vaccine from Thursday.
Dr Hill said several vaccines are in clinical trials at the moment. ‘We are starting tomorrow… Have to test its safety, to see whether it produces immune response and what protection the vaccine offers,’ Dr Hill said, while speaking about the challenges ahead for his team.
When asked how confident is he about the vaccine, Dr Hill said there are several indicators the vaccine being developed by Oxford could be a good one.
He elaborated, ‘One is that this is a single dose vaccine. It is much more suitable for a pandemic situation. The technology of this vaccine has been used before so we are hopeful this will be safe as well. The scale up process to produce large numbers is achievable. Our Indian partner, Serum Institute, will help us achieve this.’
On being asked what could go wrong in the vaccine, Dr Hill answered saying there are several risks with any vaccine and it might not be safe, which is unlikely.
‘There might just not be enough people to test on to check the vaccine’s efficacy. We need to be lucky in the clinical trials we choose that we get enough people without Covid-19 in the control group to show conclusively that the vaccine is working well,’ he explained.
Meanwhile, Adar Poonawala said his institute’s team members are working closely with Dr Hill for the vaccine.
‘In around two weeks, we can produce five million doses a month and scale that up to 10 million after six months,’ he said.
Adar Poonawala was also asked how confident is he that the Covid-19 vaccine being developed could be winner compared to ones that the others are making, and he said he cannot speak for others but all he can say is that the scientists at Oxford are among the best in the world. I have a lot of faith If anyone succeeds, I’m sure Dr Hill and his colleagues will be the ones to succeed, Poonawala said.
But by when can people expect the vaccine? Dr Hill said, ‘Well we are aiming hundreds of millions of doses with our partners by Q4 this year. But a word of caution, a lot of things have to go right for that on the clinical trials and scale up process.’