HTLS 2020: If all goes well, Covid-19 vaccine will roll out in next 3-4 months, says SII’s Adar Poonawalla

Providing a glimmer of hope to a population ravaged by the novel Coronavirus, Pune-based Serum Institute of India’s CEO and owner Adar Poonawalla announced at the HT Leadership Summit 2020 on Thursday that India could well expect a suitable and effective vaccine for the contagious viral disease by the end of the year or early next year. Emphasising that the initial doses of the vaccine would be allocated for all frontline workers, health officials and the elderly who are more vulnerable, Poonawalla said that if timelines were not delayed by unexpected circumstances, the common people would be able to get vaccinated by March- April 2021.

“Never did I dream that we at the Serum Institute of India (SII) would have a good vaccine developed by this year-end with all regulatory approvals in place. If everything goes according to plan, January-February 2021 is our deadline for making the vaccine available to frontline workers and to the general public by March, April next year, the SII CEO said.

Promising to allocate at least 50% of the volume of the vaccine manufactured by his company to his own countrymen to help them battle the Covid-19 infection, Poonawalla indicated that SII had plans to roll out 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by February 2020. He also said that efforts were on to make the vaccine affordable for all at an initial price range of Rs 500 to Rs 600. He assured that there would be no major side effects but slight fever may occur which could be treated with paracetamol.

Poonawalla was participating in the 18th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in conversation with HT’s Health Editor Sanchita Sharma. The maiden session also saw Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS and Dr Ashish K Jha, Dean, Brown University School of Public Health discussing the Covid-19 health crisis and how it had affected the entire world. Dr Guleria also warned the population to be more cautious now than ever before since a suitable vaccine for the viral disease was just round the corner.

Adar Poonawalla is the CEO and owner of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold globally (more than 1.5 billion doses). SII supplies affordable life-saving vaccines approved by the World Health Organization to at least 170 countries, across the globe. The family-owned company was set up in 1966 by Cyrus Poonawalla with the aim of manufacturing life-saving immunobiological drugs including vaccines.

Amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought nearly 200 countries face-to-face with the largest public health crisis that the world has seen in a century, this year’s edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS) is a totally virtual affair and an amalgamation of global leaders from all spheres of life. Live discussions with the celebrity participants will be spread over the span of four weeks scheduled twice a week on Thursdays and Fridays.

The theme of this year’s edition, held virtually, is ‘Defining a New Era’ as the world learns to live and deal with the Coronavirus infection and takes baby steps in controlling the pandemic.

The Hindustan Times Leadership Summit began in 2003 to raise the level of discourse on critical issues and to encourage interaction among leaders in important areas and present quality thought. The last seventeen summits have seen leaders from India and across the world putting across their views to build a better India.

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