Serum Institute to produce COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca, Novavax

The Serum Institute of India (SII) said it will produce coronavirus vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax, making them available for procurement, if they gain marketing approval, at a ceiling price of $3 per dose. SII noted that it will use funding from Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support at-risk manufacturing of up 100 million doses of the vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries as early as the first half of 2021.

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive at SII, said that "to ensure maximum immunisation coverage and contain the pandemic, it is important to make sure that the most remote and poorest countries of the world have access to affordable cure and preventive measures. Through this association, we seek to ramp up our efforts to save the lives of millions of people from this dreadful disease."

Gavi's board recently agreed on a list of 92 countries that will be supported by the group's COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), a scheme designed to secure fast and equitable access globally to COVID-19 vaccines. Specifically, COVAX aims to deliver 2 billion doses of approved and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

Under the new collaboration, AstraZeneca's experimental vaccine would be available to 57 Gavi-eligible countries, while Novavax's candidate would be available to all 92 countries supported by the AMC. SII added that the arrangement also provides an option to secure additional doses if COVAX sees a need for it.

Early data from a Phase I/II trial published in The Lancet last month showed that AstraZeneca's AZD1222, which is being co-developed with the University of Oxford, increased levels of both neutralising antibodies and T-cells that target the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Similarly, Novavax recently reported preliminary results from a Phase I/II study indicating that its recombinant coronavirus vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 also triggered neutralising antibodies in healthy adults, as well as cellular immune responses in a subset of participants.

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