Serum Institute of India (SII) is hopeful of launching Covovax, a second vaccine for COVID-19, by September 2021.
Covovax is being developed in partnership with American vaccine developer Novavax, who had announced a licence agreement in August 2020 with SII for the development and commercialisation of NVX-CoV2373, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, in low and middle-income countries and India. SII’s CEO Adar Poonawalla said in a tweet,
“Covovax trials finally begin in India; the vaccine is made through a partnership with @Novavax and @SerumInstIndia. It has been tested against African and UK variants of COVID19 and has an overall efficacy of 89 percent. Hope to launch by September 2021.”
Covovax is the SII’s second coronavirus vaccine for which trials have started in the country after India’s drug regulator – the DCGI – cleared Covishield that has been developed in partnership with the Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca.
India began the world’s largest vaccine drive on January 16 when priority was given to health workers and frontline workers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that the made-in-India vaccines being rolled out would ensure a “decisive victory” for the country over the coronavirus pandemic.
The public rollout for the vaccine – for those above 60 and above 45 with serious illness – started on March 1. From April 1, all people above 45 can get themselves vaccinated. Nearly 40 million people have received one dose, and over eight million people have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus after receiving two doses.
India is again witnessing an alarming spike in fresh cases reported over the last two weeks where on average 50,000 cases are reported every week. Till now 1.61 lakh people have died of the COVID-19.