An Indian Firm Will Start Mass-Production of Unconfirmed COVID-19 Vaccine
A high number of agencies, universities, and companies around the world have been working hard behind the scenes to develop, trial, and produce a vaccine against COVID-19.
On April 21st, one of the world's largest producers of vaccines, the Serum Institute of India, has ordered the mass-production of a COVID-19 vaccine created by the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. However, the vaccine is not yet proven to be fully effective.
They do have regulatory approval
As reported by the Economist, the vaccine developed by the Jenner Institute does have regulatory approval, and an order has already been placed for it. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, took the decision to go ahead with the production of the vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, along with his father Cyrus Poonawalla who founded the Institute in 1966.
The high expense of running such a production will cost around $30 million — a tentative number — because at this stage it's still unclear how much product is needed for an effective dosage. If trials of the vaccine at a later stage prove that it isn't effective, the firm will be left with a hefty bill and a huge amount of unusable product.
Poonawalla explained his plight "I have never made a decision like this before and I hope I never have to again."
.@LRC_NDTV | "Oxford scientists think it will be a one shot vaccine. We hope to start producing the vaccine so that by the time trials are over in September, we have a product that we can give to Indian people": Adar Poonawala, CEO, Serum Institute of India on #COVID19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/WcZlw9Zcoo— NDTV (@ndtv) April 27, 2020
Even though Poonawalla stated that his decision was based on a gut feeling and a sort of commitment to public health, it wasn't merely a guess. This COVID-19 vaccine does use a proven "platform," which was used for Ebola, MERS, and malaria vaccines previously.
The Serum Insitute of India has been on a roll ever since it made the decision. It has an unwritten agreement with Oxford University, has designed a trial in India that will allow the vaccine to have a license, has found the buildings it will use to mass-produce the product, and has already started arrangements for the import of the vaccine to run smoothly.
Experimental batches will start being tested in the next weeks to prove that the vaccine dosage is correct. Poonawalla told the Economist "that he is quite confident he can achieve this by May 30th. Everything, he said, has to be ready and standardized if he is to churn out millions of doses of a vaccine that is to be given safely to humans."
The timeline is to have the vaccines ready to be sent out into the world by September, with a big focus on low- to middle-income countries, starting with India.
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