India vaccine:

Covishield is the Pune-based Serum Institute of India’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate. (IANS photo)

PUNE – In what could be termed as a New Year’s gift, Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India, said Dec. 28 that 40-50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have already been stockpiled, adding that Covishield rollout is expected in January.

“We have 40-50 million doses of Covishield stockpiled. Once we get regulatory approvals in a few days, it will be down to the government to decide how much they can take and how fast. We will be producing around 300 million doses by July 2021,” said Poonawalla while doing a virtual media interaction. “Initially, in one or two months the offtake will be slow. Once the logistics and everything work out well, we can expect the rollout for Covishield in January.”

Asked whether there is any concern regarding the COVID-19 vaccine getting an approval, he said, “Regulators are evaluating the data...Lot of people keep raising issues. There are no concerns at all. 92 to 95 percent vaccine efficiency is there. Emergency use of vaccine may come in the end of December or maybe in January in the U.K. and we are hoping the same in India as well. We should wait for some good news.”

“India is a part of ‘COVAX.’ We will keep giving 50 percent of everything we make to India and to COVAX at the same time. India has such a large population that we will probably end up giving the majority of those 50 million doses to India first,” Poonawalla said.

He, however, mentioned that the first six months of 2021 will see a shortage of vaccines globally.

“Nobody can help that. But we will see easing off by August-September 2021 as other vaccine manufactures also being able to supply,” he added.

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