The export restrictions for Covid vaccines are expected to be alleviated within a two-month period by Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer of the Serum Institute of India (SII), provided India has created a enough stock to cope with the third wave.
The provision of raw materials for Novavax vaccines has improved compared to March and in December, Poonawalla told the media, SII plans to announce its monthly manufacturing plan.
“No export ban was in place, but temporary restrictions were in place and rightly so. In the next month or two I think these will be slowly easy, but I don’t want to go astray. But soon,” he said, adding that India is close to a point in which more than enough stocks of vaccines exist.
The government of India, Poonawalla says, is relieving the export restrictions, and it will follow what the Center thinks is appropriate.
“The Centre has to balance the needs of the country and stockpile vaccines for India in case of the third and fourth waves. Taking lessons from the first and second waves, the government is rightly being very cautious,” he said.
SII is expanding its Covishield capacity, which now stands at around 160 million doses a month. From October, it is expected to touch 200 million doses a month.
On the other hand, the production of the Novavax vaccine is not constrained by SII’s capacities, but by raw materials, Poonawalla said. SII is working on developing alternative vendor sources for critical raw materials. “Developing new supplies takes time. The silver lining is we have got people who can make quality raw materials, but they are inundated with orders from different vaccine companies – from Korea, China, Europe, etc,” he added.
SII is trying its best to scale up the production of the Novavax vaccine, Poonawalla said, and that there have been major improvements in raw material supplies since March. “We will wait and see, and in December, for sure, we can comment on what our monthly production will be,” he said.
As for the Novavax vaccine’s clinical trials on paediatric population, Poonawalla said the company has started trials, and three to four months is the minimum timeframe for that. By January-February, there is a possibility that Covovax (SII-manufactured Novavax vaccine) could be ready for approval for use in kids.