The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with Gavi, Vaccine Alliance has inked an agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to manufacture 100 million doses of future vaccines. The price is Rs 250 a dose for small and medium-sized countries.
Through its Strategic Investment Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation will provide Gavi with a $150 million risk funding for SII support in development.
Vaccines in 92 countries, including India, are priced at $3 per dose. Those are in the Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC) of Gavi.
Covax is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) program to ensure the fair distribution of the vaccine and is operated by Gavi and the Alliance for Disease Preparedness Technologies (CEPI).
For its candidate AZD1222, which is under the advanced stage of a clinical trial, SII has also a link up with Oxford-AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca, which has already pledged 2 billion AZD 1222 doses, will receive 1 billion doses from SII.
In December, SII is preparing 300 million doses of AZD1222 and the Phase 2 trials will soon begin. It has also linked Novavax to its candidate’s development and marketing. In India (during the term of the deal), it has exclusive rights to that and in all countries, apart from high- and upper-middle-income countries’ non-exclusive rights during the pandemic.
SII said Gavi would provide capital to boost the production capacity. Gavi and the foundation. The funding would help risky SII development of AstraZeneca’s and Novax’s applicants, which can be bought if they succeed in securing full license and WHO pre-qualification. The device also allows for additional doses when the ACT Accelerator arm of the vaccine deems necessary.
Serum will continue its connection to AstraZeneca and Novavax. In India, it is free to charge vaccines in addition to the 100 million doses that it will give Gavi-led Covax (at Rs 250 each). “SII has partnered with Gavi, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to facilitate the manufacture and distribution of up to one hundred million doses of potential COVID vaccines in India along with the low- and middle-income countries in 2021 to implement and strengthen our fight against the CBA-19,” said Serum ‘s CEO Adar Poonawalla.
In two to three weeks, the company expects to start development of the Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine and aims to get it onto the market by October, given the human clinical trials were successful.
As one of the world’s seven vaccination development institutions, the Pune-based company has collaborated with Oxford University.
“We work closely with Dr. Hill at the University of Oxford and plan to start the vaccine development in 2-3 weeks and to produce a total of 5 million doses per month for the first six months, after which the development will be increased to 10 million doses per month,” said Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer of the Serum Institute India.
“Taking into account the current situation, we have financed this endeavor personally and hopefully can reinforce the vaccine production and take it to the next level by the support of other partners,” said Poonawalla.
The vaccines are developed at the Pune facility of the company. This would have taken about 2 to 3 years to develop a new COVID 19 vaccine factory.
In collaboration with the company, the Indian regulatory authorities ensure a smooth operating procedure. “We are in contact with ICMR (Indian Medical Research Council) and the Department of Biotechnology,” said Poonawalla.