This comes after chief executive of Serum Institute of India (SII) Adar Poonawalla tweeted over the weekend that the government would require “Rs 80,000 crore over the next one year to buy and distribute Covid-19 vaccines to everyone in India and this is going to be the next challenge the country needs to tackle.”
Adar Poonawalla’s statement in a tweet over the weekend came as countries across the world plan their Covid-19 vaccine strategy by buying up doses directly from companies.
This is the time when realism in vaccine development and distribution will be setting in, as vaccine candidates reach the dotted line for approval, several pharma industry executives said.
India has yet to announce any plans of buying vaccines from the companies that are manufacturing them. There are currently four vaccine candidates in the advanced trial stage in the country.
Will the government of India have Rs 80,000 crore available over the next one year, because that’s what the health ministry would need to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India, Poonawalla tweeted on Saturday. “I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution,” he added.
In India, Bharat Biotech, SII, Biological E and Zydus Cadila have invested their own capital so far to start the Covid-19 vaccine trial. SII has received $150 million (about Rs 1,100 crore) in grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to manufacture vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Biological E, which has a tie up with Johnson & Johnson, is also expected to receive a grant from the Gates Foundation.
Under the COVAX agreement among GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, the vaccines that are part of this consortium might be priced at $3 per dose. Serum Institute has a tie-up with Swedish-Brit drug maker AstraZeneca and US vaccine maker Novavax. While the AZ vaccine trial is in Phase-3 in the UK, in the US the trial is on hold as regulators review its safety data.