- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide at-risk funding to Gavi
- Funding of US$150 million will be used to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine
- The vaccine will be priced at US$ 3 per dose; available to 92 countries
New Delhi: Keeping up the momentum towards ensuring a quick roll out of a successful COVID-19 vaccine candidate, once it emerges, the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has collaborated with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance (formerly known as Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The partnership aims at expediting the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India and low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Sharing the news, Adar Poonawalla, CEO and Owner of Serum Institute of India (SII), tweeted, “I would like to thank Bill Gates, Gates Foundation, Gavi Seth for this key partnership of risk sharing and manufacturing of a 100 million doses, which will also ensure equitable access at an affordable price to many countries around the world.”
I would like to thank @BillGates, @gatesfoundation, @GaviSeth for this key partnership of risk sharing and manufacturing of a 100 million doses, which will also ensure equitable access at an affordable price to many countries around the world. https://t.co/NDmpo23Ay8 pic.twitter.com/jNaNh6xUPy
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) August 7, 2020
The collaboration will provide upfront capital to SII to help them increase manufacturing capacity now so that once a vaccine, or vaccines, gain regulatory approval and WHO pre-qualification, doses can be produced at a scale for distribution to India and LMIC as part of the Gavi COVAX AMC (Advance Market Commitment) mechanism as early as the first half of 2021, reads the official press release issued by SII.
As per the partnership, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of US$150 million to Gavi, which will be used to support the SII to manufacture potential vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca and Novavax.
According to the official statement, the vaccine will be priced at US$ 3 per dose. As part of the latest collaboration, if the trials are successful, AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine will be available to 57 Gavi-eligible countries and Novavax’s candidate will be available to all 92 countries supported by the Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
Talking about the partnership, Mr Poonawalla said,
The rampant spread of the virus has rendered the entire world in an unimaginable halt of uncertainty. And to ensure maximum immunization coverage and contain the pandemic, it is important to make sure that the most remote and poorest countries of the world have access to affordable cure and preventive measures. Through this association, we seek to ramp up our constant efforts to save the lives of millions of people from this dreadful disease.
Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), who has called India ‘pharmacy of the world’ lauded the partnership and said,
India has demonstrated consistent capability in delivering on low-cost and high-quality medical research, while also maintaining technical and scientific rigour. ICMR is deeply supportive of our cutting edge vaccine research and manufacturing prowess, of which SII is one prominent example. This partnership signifies yet another step in India’s efforts to bolster the fight against this global pandemic.
COVID-19 Vaccines Being Manufactured By The Serum Institute of India
SII has already started the mass manufacturing of a vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with bio-pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, even as the clinical trials are underway. The Oxford vaccine will be called Covishield vaccine in India. Phase -1 of the human trial of Oxford’s ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine also known as AZD1222 has shown positive results and the results for the phase-II trial are still awaited, the phase-III trial of the candidate vaccine has started in Brazil.
On August 3, SII also received a green signal from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduct phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University in India. Talking about the trials and the launch of the potential vaccine, Mr Poonawalla had told NDTV,
We forecast that it will take about two to two and a half months to complete, followed by another few weeks of review and in November, we hope to launch the vaccine if the trials are positive and the DCGI says it is safe and effective.
In a media briefing on August 3, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at the World Health Organisation (WHO) addressed the development of a vaccine and stressed on controlling the virus by following the known basics – testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts; inform, empower and listen to communities; for individuals, WHO suggests keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. He said,
A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.