‘Had good interaction’: PM Modi visits SII to review Covid-19 vaccine development

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday he had a good interaction with the team at the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune, which has partnered with global pharma giant AstraZeneca and the Oxford University for the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). SII was the Prime Minister’s third stop in the day after he reviewed the vaccine development at the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad and Bharat Biotech Hyderabad’s facility.

“Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility,” Modi wrote on Twitter.

The Prime Minister’s visit came days after he had held review meetings with the chief ministers of states and Union Territories (UTs) on the country’s vaccine distribution mechanism.

SII’s chief executive officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla also took to the social networking site and thanked Modi for his visit to discuss in detail the complex challenges yet to come and review the status of vaccine production.

Speaking to news agency ANI, he added there is nothing in writing with the Centre on how many doses will it purchase but the indication is that it would be 300-400 million doses by July next year.

“As of now, we don’t have anything in writing with the govt of India on how many doses they will purchase but the indication is that it would be 300-400 million doses by July, 2021,” the SII CEO said.

Poonawalla, who was a guest speaker on November 19 at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS) 2020 had said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be available for the general public by April-May next year and is likely to cost around Rs 500-600 for a dose.

Also Read: PM Modi reviews Covid-19 vaccine progress in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune

“The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is proving to work very well, even in the elderly which was a concern early on. It elicits a good T-cell response and a good antibody response as well,” he added.

University of Oxford and AstraZeneca said earlier in the week that their vaccine was up to 90% effective in late-stage clinical trials, raising hopes for its arrival in India by the end of the year.

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