The Serum Institute of India (SII) on Friday said it has entered into a new partnership with international vaccine alliance Gavi and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for India as well as other low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
"The collaboration will provide upfront capital to SII to help them increase manufacturing capacity now so that, once a vaccine, or vaccines, gains regulatory approval and WHO prequalification, doses can be produced at scale for distribution to India and LMICs as part of the Gavi COVAX AMC mechanism as early as the first half of 2021," SII said in a statement.
The company has set an affordable ceiling price of $3 (around Rs 225) per dose, it added.
The funding will support at-risk manufacturing by SII for candidate vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax, which will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and WHO prequalification, the statement said.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of $150 million to Gavi, which will be used to support the SII to manufacture the potential vaccine candidates and for future procurement of vaccines for low- and middle-income countries via Gavi's COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), the statement said.
"In an attempt to make our fight against COVID-19 stronger and all-embracing; SII has partnered with Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of future COVID vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries in 2021," Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla said.
Through this association, SII seeks to ramp up constant efforts to save the lives of millions of people from this dreadful disease, he added.
Serum Institute has a long history of partnerships with Gavi and pharmaceutical companies to manufacture vaccines that protect against meningitis, severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles, the statement said.
"We are very happy to see SII enter this global partnership to respond to the global health crisis posed by COVID-19," Renu Swarup, secretary in the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, said.
India has a proven track record of manufacturing safe and cost-effective vaccines not only for India, but for the world, she added.
In a similar vein, Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Balram Bhargava said: "ICMR is deeply supportive of our cutting edge vaccine research and manufacturing prowess, of which SII is one prominent example. This partnership signifies yet another step in India's efforts to bolster the fight against this global pandemic."
Vaccines will be priced at maximum $3 per dose and made available to the 92 countries included in Gavi's COVAX AMC, it added.
(With inputs from PTI)