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On COVID-19 vaccine, why India could catch up quickly

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New Delhi, Jan 02: 40 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca could be shipped from the Serum Institute of India facilities in Pune and this would help India catch up with other nations that have started vaccinating their citizens.

The vaccine that was recommended for emergency use on Friday is currently the only candidate available in mass volumes. A quick roll out of the vaccine would be helped by the compatibility with the Indian cold chain network.

On COVID-19 vaccine, why India could catch up quickly

Serum Institute has been able to stockpile 75 million does and by the first week of January, we will have 100 million doses. Nobody across the world has so much stock and we can start supplying as soon as we get approval Umesh Shaligram, director of Research and Development at SII, at a webinar on Thursday.

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    Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of SII had told reporters that 50 per cent of the doses produced will be split between India and Covax facility, a WHO led pool to distribute vaccines to the low and middle income countries.

    We have always said that we will keep giving 50% of everything we make to India and to Covax at the same time. So, if we are producing 60-70 million doses every month, there will be plenty of vaccines to go around both to India and to Covax countries, including some of our neighbours like Bangladesh etc. because everybody wants the vaccine, and we are trying to give as much as we can and equitably to nations including India, he said.

    The company initially may give most of its production to India because to export, it would need WHO's pre-qualification, Poonawalla said on Monday. That may take another month or so after it is licensed in India. That way India will have priority, and because India is such a large country that we may end up giving a majority of those 50 million doses to India first. Every month we are churning out 40-50 million doses which will go up to about 100 million doses every month by March as by then we are going to commission a third facility that is getting ready. Eventually everyone is going to get it; of course some countries will have to wait a little longer, he also said.

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