India at heart of global efforts to produce Covid vaccine | World news | The Guardian
India at heart of global efforts to produce Covid vaccine. Country plays central role in development, manufacture – and possible distribution – of potential vaccine. A research scientist works in a laboratory at the Serum Institute of India. As the largest global supplier of drugs and producer of 60% of the world’s vaccines, India has long been known as the “pharmacy of the world”.Now, as the frenzied hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine gathers momentum, the country is playing an increasingly strategic and central role in the development, manufacturing – and, crucially, possible future distribution – of several possible Covid shots. With more than 7.5 million cases and about 115,000 deaths, India is also one of the worst affected countries by the virus, second only to the US.
A deal has already been struck for the Serum Institute of India, based in the city of Pune, to produce 1bn doses of the the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, seen as the forerunner in the vaccine race. In anticipation of its success, it has already begun production of almost 2m samples of the vaccine and is carrying out phase 3 human clinical trials on thousands of patients spread across 15 Covid-19 hotspots in India. This week, the Serum Institute of India said it was confident the AstraZeneca vaccine would be ready by December and would be licensed for distribution in India by March.Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum institute of India, said he was “very optimistic” that more than one successful vaccine was imminent. “A lot of the data that I have seen off-the-record in a lot of these vaccines is very promising and more than three to four vaccines will be successful very soon in the next year,” said Poonawalla.The Serum Institute, which this week also began human trials on an intranasal Covid vaccine, is just one of the dozens of Indian companies in the running to produce the much-coveted vaccine, of which there are almost 200 different types being developed across the world.