The Serum Institute of India (SII) expects WHO emergency use authorization soon for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, which it is producing for mid and low-income countries, its chief executive said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) listed Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 shot for emergency use on Dec. 31 as it sought to accelerate vaccination in the developing world, which is badly lagging western countries.
“The emergency use licensure from the WHO should be available and coming through in the next week or two, hopefully, because we have submitted everything,” Adar Poonawalla said of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine at the Reuters Next conference.
Poonawalla said SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, was trying to begin supplies to the WHO-backed COVAX initiative by the end of January. It is selling each dose at $3 for low-income countries and at a “slightly higher” price for others.
Some 189 countries have joined the programme, which was established to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines.
From sending about 20 million doses for the initiative in February, SII will raise this to 50 million per month from around April, while simultaneously selling 30-40 million doses each month to India, Poonawalla added on Thursday.
SII has already sold 11 million doses to the government, which is due to begin a mass vaccination campaign on Saturday.