Serum Institute to make 100 mn more doses of Covid vaccine for Rs 250 each

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, will now be producing an additional 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for India as well as low- and medium-income countries (LMICs) in 2021. The vaccine will come for $3 or around Rs 250 per dose.


This would take the total volume of vaccines that SII will offer at this price to 200 million. The company has received an additional $150 million risk funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The announcement practically takes forward the collaboration among SII, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This comes after the August announcement when SII said it would deliver 100 million doses at Rs 250 a dose. The partnership has now been extended to 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, with AstraZeneca’s as well as Novavax’s vaccine being the candidates.


The Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of a further $150 million to Gavi, bringing the total funding provided through this collaboration to $300 million.


This is a part of the Gavi-Covax advance market commitment, a mechanism within the Covax facility. The Covax facility is a Gavi-coordinated pooled procurement mechanism for new Covid vaccines. Through this, Covax will ensure equitable access to vaccines for each participating economy, using an allocation framework currently being formulated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Gavi Covax commitment, which is currently seeking around $2 billion in initial seed funding, will meet at least part of the cost of procurement for the vaccine.


The Gavi board has agreed upon the final list of 92 countries that will be supported by the Gavi Covax commitment. Under the new collaboration, AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine, if successful, will be available to 61 Gavi-eligible countries. Novavax’s candidate, if successful, will be available to all 92 countries supported by the Gavi Covax commitment. The arrangement again provides an option to secure additional doses, if required. The collaboration will provide upfront capital to SII so that it can scale up its capacity. Once the vaccine candidates gain regulatory approval as well as WHO prequalification, the doses can be distributed as early as the first half of 2021.


Adar Poonwalla, CEO of SII, who recently tweeted his concern whether the Centre had Rs 80,000 crore available with it over the next one year to distribute vaccine to Indians, said it will now manufacture and deliver up to an additional 100 million doses of Covid vaccine to India and LMICs in 2021.


He said, “At this stage, it is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery. This association is in line with our efforts to see that future vaccines reach the remotest part of the world, providing full immunisation coverage.”


Reiterating what Poonawalla felt, Seth Berkely, CEO of Gavi said, “Last week, we were able to announce the historic number of countries that are now signed up for the Covax facility. No country, rich or poor, should be left at the back of the queue when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines. The collaboration brings us another step closer to achieving this goal.” So far, 73 high-income economies have formally committed to joining the facility, in addition to the 92 low- and middle-income economies that are eligible for support from the Gavi Covax commitment.


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