The Serum Institute of India on Friday started manufacturing the first batch of US pharma major Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine in Pune which is expected to be made available for use in India in September under the Covovax brand name.
The vaccine is still undergoing final stage trials but is manufactured in advance so that distribution can start as soon as the approval comes through to save precious time.
Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the SII, tweeted: "Excited to witness the first batch of Covovax (developed by @Novavax) being manufactured this week at our facility in Pune. The vaccine has great potential to protect our future generations below the age of 18. Trials are ongoing. Well done team @seruminstindia! "
Mr Poonawalla had earlier said he hoped to launch the Covovax vaccineby June. Later, he said vaccine launch was likely by September.
The Novavax vaccine is more than 90% effective based on a study that “enrolled 29,960 participants across 119 sites in the U.S. and Mexico to evaluate efficacy, safety and immunogenicity," the company had said.
The vaccine is also covered as part of the Indo-Pacific Quad agreement under which the US and Japan have agreed to finance the production of vaccines while using India’s large manufacturing capacity as a hub. The vaccines would also be exported to South-east Asia to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Serum Institute is already producing the Covishield vaccine in collaboration with UK pharma giant AstraZeneca which along with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is the mainstay India’s vaccination drive.