Wed, 20 Jan 2021

Pune (Maharashtra) [India], November 28 (ANI): Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), its Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said that he was amazed by the Prime Minister's knowledge about vaccines and vaccine production.

SII is conducting the phase 3 trials of AztraZennca and Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine candidate Covishield.

Poonawalla said there were detailed discussions during the Prime Minister's visit.

"We have built the largest pandemic-level facility in Pune and a new campus in Mandri. It was also shown to the Prime Minister with a tour around the facility and a lot of detailed discussions... Prime Minister is knowledgeable about vaccines and vaccine production... We were amazed. We discussed in brief the pros and cons of different vaccines that are out there," said the pharma giant chief.

The Prime Minister also tweeted about his visit to the Serum Institute of India facility.

"Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility," the Prime Minister said.

Poonawalla said they are in the process of applying for emergency-use authorisation of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the next two weeks. "Implementation can only happen after the emergency-use licence is obtained. The licence will be granted based on the data submitted by us. We are in the process of submitting the data to the Drug Controller of India," he said.

Asked if the SII is going to conduct extra trials of the vaccine, Poonawalla said that Covishield had enough trials and not conducting more will not affect the process of getting an emergency licence.

He said the central government will look at issues concerning logistics of vaccine distribution.

"With the logistical and pricing issues, they (Centre) have to take a balanced view of how that's going to happen," he said.

Poonawalla said that initially, the vaccine will be distributed in India, and then supplied to COVAX countries (engaged in COVID-19 vaccine Global Access Facility), which are mainly in Africa.

"The vaccine will be distributed initially in India, and then we will look at the COVAX countries, mainly in Africa. The UK and European markets are being taken care of by AstraZeneca and Oxford. Our priority is India and COVAX countries," he said, adding they can do under-18 trails after a few months. (ANI)

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