After several months of suffering, it appears we have come close to reducing the danger of the pandemic. According to the latest updates, doctors and scientist have done successful trials of Covid vaccine in different countries. Now that we have found the panacea for this virus, the questions that arise here are—when will we get access to it? How much we will have to pay for it? To whom this vaccine will be available first? Different medical institutions gave different information about the invention of vaccines.
As per the sources available, vaccines will be available in India in the early months of the year 2021. This information is also confirmed by the CEO of Serum Institute of India, Mr. Adar Poonawalla. The owner of the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, Adar Poonawalla explained the distribution system and cost fixation of the vaccine. On day 1 of the 18th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, he revealed how much a Covid vaccine dose is likely to cost. In this article, we have discussed the cost and availability of different Covid-19 vaccines going through the final stage of trials.
Serum Institute of India:
Serum Institute of India is ranked as India’s No. 1 biotechnology company, manufacturing highly specialized life-saving biologicals like vaccines. Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla founded the Serum Institute of India in 1966 with the aim of manufacturing life-saving immunobiologicals. Biologicals were in shortage in the country and imported at high prices. So, using cutting-edge genetic cell-based technologies and other medical specialties, this institution emerged as the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
This institution produced and sold more than 1.5 billion doses of Polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccines globally. Estimation claims that about 65% of the children in the world receive at least one vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute. The World Health Organization (WHO) accredits all the vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute. These vaccines are being used in around 170 countries across the globe, saving millions of lives. This institute also received permission to manufacture the Covid vaccine invented by Oxford and AstraZeneca.
Different Covid-19 Vaccines in Final Stage of Development
Coronavirus spike continues in India and this has created a claustrophobic situation for the people. Almost all sections of the society, especially the poor have suffered tremendously because of this virus. We all are eagerly waiting for the Covid vaccine and many researchers and healthcare officials are persistently making efforts for its launch. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) gives a green signal to some companies like Serum Institute of India, Reliance Life Sciences Pvt. Limited, Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Limited, etc. to manufacture the vaccines.
Some vaccines which are in news are Covaxin (Bharat Biotech/ICMR), ZyCoV (ZydusCadila), Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca (Covishield) in partnership with Serum Institute. Different countries have been working to launch the vaccine first and many of them are in final stage of development after many rounds of trials.
Covaxin (Bharat Biotech/ICMR):
India’s indigenous vaccine developers Bharat Biotech International Ltd. are in the second phase of human trial. The Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) is likely to be the trial center for this vaccine. This private company is developing COVAXIN with the support of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The company is likely to launch it in the second quarter of next year.
ZydusCadila is in the process to receive approvals for conducting third-phase clinical trials. Hopefully it will launch the vaccine in the first half of 2021. The manufacturing company claims that if the phase III trial got successful then this vaccine will be considered the most essential vaccine.
Moderna announced a longer shelf life for its vaccine mRNA-1273 at refrigerated temperatures. The Phase III trial of mRNA-1273 is being conducted in collaboration with the NIH and BARDA.
Serum Institute of India is conducting trials for the vaccine developed by Oxford University. Covishield is the name of the COVID-19 vaccine in India developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. This vaccine is also in the third stage of public trial.
When and who will get Covid vaccine first in India?
As per some medical experts, the last two weeks have seen a string of encouraging results from coronavirus vaccine trials. Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla said the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine will be available from February 2021 for healthcare workers and elderly people.
Depending on the final trial results and regulatory approvals, the vaccines will be available from April 2021 onwards for the general public. Mr. Poonawalla also said that it will probably take two or three years for every Indian to get inoculated, considering all the factors like the willingness of people to take vaccines, budget, logistics, and infrastructure.
How much money would Covid vaccines cost in India?
It is clear that in India, people have to pay for the Covishield. People also expect that the price of the vaccine will be high. As most of the Indian population belongs to the lower economic class, it would be difficult for them to purchase the expensive vaccine. But the CEO of Serum Institute clears this doubt. He revealed that the Oxford coronavirus vaccine for the general public will be cost approximately $3 to $4 i.e. Rs 1,000 for two necessary doses.
The Moderna is prepping for the global launch of its potential coronavirus vaccine tentatively called mRNA-1273, which has priced between $32 and $37 (Rs 2,738) for a single dose. That means for a double dose this vaccine would cost more than 4000 rupees. The pricing of the ZyCoV-D (ZydusCadila) vaccine is not yet fixed, so estimation can be made on the pricing of this vaccine.
How many doses of vaccine an individual will need?
It is also not clear yet that how many doses of corona vaccine would an individual need once it is available in the market. Some sources claim that every person might require two doses while some claim that one need three doses of the vaccine. It is also possible that number of doses will be same or different for various corona vaccines. However, it is not viable to guess the correct price or number of doses of the vaccines before their launches in the market. Cost of vaccines may vary significantly for many reasons and factors. Prime Minister of India has also appealed for not spreading false information regarding the price and number of doses of vaccines.
Are the Covid vaccines safe?
People do not receive any vaccine directly. Every single vaccine goes through a lot of testing. This testing ensures the safety of the public. Similarly, many strict protections have been taken to maintain the safety of the Covid vaccine during trials. COVID-19 vaccine is going through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large (phase III) trials that involve thousands of people. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is so far proving to work very well. The Covid vaccine in India is on phase III trial. If this clinical trial shows that this vaccine is safe and effective, then it will be available for the people. After the launch of the Covid vaccine, WHO will monitor with vaccine manufacturers and health officials in each country for safety concerns.
Challenges for India regarding the Covid vaccine:
This is a true but contradictory statement that India’s land is full of resources and also that it is a land with minimum resources. Huge population of the country is a major factor which affects policies and actions of the government. In India, we have enormous natural resources, but we do not have sufficient means to use and protect these resources. These limited means and such a large population pose a challenge for India in every situation from time to time. In case of distribution of Coronavirus vaccine, there are many challenges.
The Covid vaccines would be store under sub zero temperatures. So, it needs to be stored in the cold storages. But India will require sufficient number of cold storages to store and transport this vaccine.
Challenge of distribution:
Indian authorities may face infrastructural problems in delivering the vaccine on a priority basis. ICMR scientists also highlighted the same point that even though India might get hands on a vaccine by early 2021, delivery and strategizing the path for the same is a big challenge to overcome.
It’s too early to say that the Covid vaccine will provide long-term protection. India needs additional researches to answer this question. However, several observations suggest that people who recovered from COVID-19 have developed a strong immune system that provides at least some protection against reinfection. Although researchers are still studying how strong Covid vaccine protection is, and how long it lasts. Till then we have to follow precautionary measures like wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, using sanitizing, etc.