Purushothaman Nambiar: Covid-19 vaccine may be available in the market by October 2020

Purushothaman Nambiar, group export-import director, Serum Institute of India, world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, in an interview with The Kochi Post says that the vaccine trials against Covid-19 are on full swing and, if the Oxford Vaccine trials are successful then it may be available in the global market by October-November 2020. Nambiar says that the vaccine will be priced lower for the Indian market and the company is not focusing on profits for this vaccine.

It may be noted that Serum Institute of India is the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the number of vaccines produced (more than 1.5 billion doses), exporting their products to 170 countries. 2 of the 3 children born in the world are immunized with at least one vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute. The manufacturing facility is located in 110 acres of land in Pune.

Q: You are at the helm of the export-import of a premium research institute and there are reports that you are on the verge of bringing out a vaccine against the Novel Corona virus. Is that right?

 A: Human trials are already going on in various countries which are at various stages.

Q: Dr Michael Ryan, emergency head.of WHO, the other day said that the corona virus is here to stay. Is the WHO not in the loop on your trials?

 Yes, virus is here to stay. That is why a vaccine is relevant to protect people from getting affected by such a virus in future.

Q: Covid 19 has taken the world by storm and the pandemic has caused endless miseries to people. Will this vaccine be a solution to this?

 A: The vaccine  is being developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute. The Serum Institute is in talks to partner with AstraZeneca. It is a preventive solution and not for curing an affected person.

Q: There are reports that you are partnering with Oxford university for the research. Please explain?

A: The Serum Institute is in talks to partner with AstraZeneca for manufacturing tie-up. We get technology and cell bank from Oxford University. We have the largest manufacturing capability in the world. We are going to make bulk vaccines from cell bank received from Oxford University and formulate it in our factory located in Pune.

Q: What will the pricing of the vaccines be? Will it be subsidised? 

A: It will be affordable for sure, but it is too early to finalise the cost. The pricing will be dependent on many factors and will be decided by July-August.

Q:The whole globe is in the grip of the pandemic and there will be enquiries from across the globe for the vaccine. Do you have the necessary capacity to meet the demand once the vaccine is out in the market?

There are many organizations working on Covid 19 Vaccines. We would be the first to manufacture and supply to the world. No individual supplier can meet global demand.

Q: How’s the support of the Government of India in your endeavor?

A: Indian government is very keen to ensure that we succeed in our efforts.  We are getting full support from the government.

Q: Your research will bring hope and expectations to a world which is under gloom following the pandemic. Your comments?

A: The vaccine is at a human trial stage and it will take a few months before the final results are out. We will start manufacturing soon in anticipation of the vaccine being successful at our own risk.

The article has been updated based on additional inputs from Serum Institute of India.  The earlier article has been altered as there were technical inaccuracies in the answers provided.
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