Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, has warned that it will take at least four years to make enough Covid-19 vaccines for the entire world, according to an interview in the Financial Times.
He added that the long wait was due to the fact that pharmaceutical companies were not ramping up their production levels quickly enough to vaccinate the global population in less time. “It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet," said Poonawalla.
According to FT, Poonawalla estimates the world will need 15 billion doses of vaccine if it is taken in two steps.
Serum Institute has partnered with five international pharmaceutical firms, including AstraZeneca and Novavax, to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and has committed to produce 1 billion doses, of which it has pledged half to India.
The company may also partner with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute to manufacture the Sputnik vaccine. Poonawalla said that the commitment of his firm exceeded that of the other vaccine producers.
His comments come a day after Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said no date had been fixed yet and that the vaccine might be available in the first quarter of 2021. “It may be ready by the first quarter of next year,” the minister said in the first episode of his Sunday Samvaad — a social media interaction programme.
Serum Institute is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, producing 1.5 bn doses of vaccines annually for use in more than 170 countries to protect against many infectious diseases, such as polio, measles and influenza.
As part of its agreement with AstraZeneca, the company will aim to produce vaccine doses that cost around $3 for 68 countries and under its agreement with Novavax, for 92 countries.