indica News Bureau-
Serum Institute of India (SII) said it expects to be ready with a vaccine against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) by early 2022.
SII announced that a vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,000 people in China since its outbreak in December-end, is expected to progress to the human trial phase within the next six months.
According to a report by The Telegraph, the company which is trying to make vaccine belongs to Cyrus Poonawalla, popularly known as the vaccine king. He oversees a global vaccine empire that directly touches the lives of billions of people.
With an estimated fortune of $9.8bn (£7.46bn), Poonawalla, 78, is the founder and chairman of Serum Institute of India (SII) – the world’s biggest manufacturer of vaccines by number of doses produced, equivalent to about 1.5 billion shots per year.
“The vaccine candidate, developed by SII in partnership with American biotechnology firm Codagenix, has progressed to the pre-clinical test phase (the animal trial phase) and we hope to be ready with the vaccine by early 2022,” SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said in a statement here.
The cost of the project is up to Rs 300 crore, for which SII aims to secure external funding via various global partners, he said.
Poonawalla said they are in talks with several firms across the globe for potential partnerships.
“We are not excluding China as a potential site for our clinical trials. By August-end, we will have data on mice and primates to submit to regulatory authorities to enter into the human trials phase,” he said.
SII is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by a number of doses produced and sold globally, with more than 1.5 billion doses so far.
“The combined efforts with the team at Codagenix have borne fruit and we hope to save millions of lives with this vaccine,” he said..
Now, as the world scrambles to mount an effective response in the battle against coronavirus, Poonawalla hopes his company will play a critical role scaling up production once a vaccine has been developed and declared fit for human use.
Codagenix claims its technology could allow the development and production of an effective vaccine to be fast-tracked – with the entire process compressed into just a few months rather than the usual time-line of several years before it is ready to enter commercial use.
He also said that the vaccine candidate has been developed using a laboratory-made synthetic virus, which is an important breakthrough as it will significantly reduce the time taken to build a shield against the virus.
“We hope to be ready with the vaccine by early 2022. Our vaccine-virus strain is identical to the original virus and can generate a robust immune response,” Adar Poonawala said.
The vaccine-virus strain will be the fastest ‘Made in India’ such vaccine to progress to the human trials phase within six months.
Adding to the above, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII, said, “By August-end, we will have data on mice and primates to submit to regulatory authorities to enter into the human trials phase.”
J. Robert Coleman, chief executive of Codagenix, said: “With the Serum Institute’s financial and technical support, we will be able to push a coronavirus vaccine into the clinic on an extremely rapid timeline… We are proud to be confronting this public health crisis head-on.”
According to Forbes profile, Cyrus Poonawalla is a son of a race horse breeder,. He founded the Serum Institute of India in 1966 and built it into one of the world’s largest vaccine makers.
Serum produces 1.5 billion doses annually of a range of vaccines, including for measles, polio and flu.His U.K.-educated son Adar is Serum’s CEO and helps him run the company. He has diversified into finance with Poonawalla Finance. Serum owns Dutch vaccine maker Bilthoven Biologicals and the Czech unit of U.S. firm Nanotherapeutics. In June 2019, Poonawalla was conferred the honorary degree of the Doctor of Science by the University of Oxford in the U.K.