Covid-19 vax export curbs may ease in two months: Adar Poonawalla

Topics Vaccine | Serum Institute | Exports

Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute
Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India (SII), expects the restrictions on export of Covid vaccines to ease within two months, provided that India has created enough stockpile to weather a third wave.

Raw material supplies for the Novavax vaccine have improved compared to March, and SII plans to announce its monthly production plan in December, Poonawalla told the media on Friday.

“There was no ban on exports, but there were temporary restrictions, and rightly so. I think these will slowly ease in the next month or two, but I don’t want to venture a guess. But it will happen very soon,” he said, adding that India is very close to a point where there is more than enough vaccine stock.

Poonawalla said easing the export restrictions is a government of India’s decision, and he will go by what the Centre feels is appropriate.

“The Centre has to balance the needs of the country and stockpile vaccines for India in case of the third and fourth waves. Taking lessons from the first and second waves, the government is rightly being very cautious,” he said.

Stepping up Covid fight
  • Paediatric Covovax may be ready for approval by Jan-Feb
  • Raw material supplies for Novavax vaccine have improved
  • SII to announce monthly Covovax production in December
  • To produce 200 mn monthly doses of Covishield from October
SII is expanding its Covishield capacity, which now stands at around 160 million doses a month. From October, it is expected to touch 200 million doses a month.

On the other hand, the production of the Novavax vaccine is not constrained by SII’s capacities, but by raw materials, Poonawalla said. SII is working on developing alternative vendor sources for critical raw materials. “Developing new supplies takes time. The silver lining is we have got people who can make quality raw materials, but they are inundated with orders from different vaccine companies – from Korea, China, Europe, etc,” he added.

SII is trying its best to scale up the production of the Novavax vaccine, Poonawalla said, and that there have been major improvements in raw material supplies since March. “We will wait and see, and in December, for sure, we can comment on what our monthly production will be,” he said.

As for the Novavax vaccine’s clinical trials on paediatric population, Poonawalla said the company has started trials, and three to four months is the minimum timeframe for that. By January-February, there is a possibility that Covovax (SII-manufactured Novavax vaccine) could be ready for approval for use in kids.

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