New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Serum Institute of India (SII) can explore an emergency license for the "Covishield" coronavirus vaccine in India based on the trials conducted by Oxford-AstraZeneca. Speaking about the chances of the Covid-19 vaccine being available for use by the end of 2020, SSI chief Adar Poonawala has said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca is on the verge of completion and if they share their data and assure safety, he will explore emergency license options based on UK trials.

"...the UK trial is on the verge of completion, if they un-blindT their study and share the data, while being confident that it is safe, we can explore the possibility of applying for an emergency license with the Indian regulator," Poonawala was quoted as saying by CNN-News18.

When asked about the cost of the vaccine, Poonawalla said that his firm is in a conversation with the government and assured affordable rates. "We are in conversation with the government regarding the cost of the vaccine and it is too soon to confirm. But it will be quite affordable for sure," he said.

Poonawalla's firm is the Indian partner of Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine candidate. The firm will manufacture the vaccine for India and some other countries. Poonawalla had quoted a figure of Rs 80,000 crore for the vaccine program in India. When reminded of this, he said," I would not like to comment on this further. This has already been addressed by the government and they have assured that they have enough funds for the Covid vaccines."

Speaking about the prioritisation of the coronavirus vaccine distribution, the SII chief said that who will get the vaccine first will be decided by the government but frontline workers will be prioritised.

"The prioritisation of the distribution of the vaccine lies with the government bodies and health ministry overall. However, based on the plans being discussed, young and old adults as well as frontline workers are expected to be prioritised," he said.

Posted By: Shashikant Sharma