While the world is still racing against time to roll out an effective vaccine against COVID-19, many research organizations and medical institutions involved in the development of the vaccine are hopeful that the vaccine will be available for mass distribution by early 2021.
The possibility of a 100 per cent effective vaccine has instilled hope among people of a return to normalcy, and has boosted the recovery of certain sectors. So when exactly can that kind of a COVID-19 vaccine, which can shield the inoculated from the deadly virus, be expected in large numbers?
As early as next month, according to the Chief Executive Officer of Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawala.
The SII has inked a pact with the Government of India to produce and mass-distribute the Covishield vaccine, which is now in the final phase of trials and is said to be 90 per cent effective against the novel coronavirus. The vaccine will be ready by January next year, and about 100 million doses can be distributed among the masses in early 2021. Poonawala has expressed confidence that that the SII will have a much larger batch of the vaccine ready by February next year for mass distribution.
A single dose of the vaccine is expected to cost nearly Rs 1,000 when bought through a privately owned pharmacy, but the government will procure most of the produced vaccines to distribute them at a lower rate to the public whose only way of accessing the vaccine will be at government-run hospitals and pharmacies.
With the vaccine expected to be ready for mass distribution by next month, the government of India has to be ready with relevant distribution channels.
Interacting with the media in a recent interview, Poonawalla shared that the Government of India has set a target of 300 to 400 million COVID-19 shots ready by July next year and the SII is going to proactively producing vaccines to reach that target comfortably within the set time frame.
If that happens, the Covishield vaccine will have become the first Indian vaccine to be mass produced and distributed for the eradication of the virus. Poonawala also revealed that 40 million COVID-19 vaccine shots have already been produced.
He noted that the 10 per cent of vaccines that will be available for private sale will not hit the market until the first quarter of next year, which means the vaccine will be under the government’s control until then. The gap between government distribution and private distribution will be thanks to the time taken in granting private distributors the license to supply the vaccine to the public.
Meanwhile, the whole nation eagerly awaits the release of Covishield.