A vaccine for the Covid-19 pandemic is expected within one year although it will not be 100% effective, said Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India (SII), which has been at the forefront of developing the vaccine.
“We need to be very clear this is not a 100% solution and cure. Maybe 60-70% of people who take the vaccine will have that protection, the rest may still get the disease despite being vaccinated,” Poonawalla said, adding that the economic danger of the outbreak was exponentially greater than its health risks.
“India’s shutdown is a domino effect and, hence, governments should…find a way to let people continue going about their normal lives with precautions,” he told ET in an interview. Poonawalla’s SII has been working on two vaccine candidates, but the one for Covid-19 which it has partnered with US-based Codagenix is likely to be available by 2021.
The Pune-based company will apply for clinical trial and imports of certain strains to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) next month.“The animal trials are already underway,” said Poonawalla, adding the institute has a budget of $100 million to develop the vaccine.
SII has also partnered with Paris-based Sanofi Pasteur to jointly develop a live attenuated vaccine to fight the virus and will soon conduct animal trials. The global response has mounted over the rapidly spreading virus, but Poonawalla said there was no need to worry.
“There has been a lot of panic, hysteria and there has been a big response from the public and health services to contain this contagion, which I don’t think is that deadly. This was never the case during H1N1 or Ebola. The total cases are about 3-4% — of that overall deaths are around 1% …there are probably more car accidents than deaths due to coronavirus…”
Poonawalla also said that India was going to see a surge in infections. “Everybody is going to be see a huge additional number of cases coming about. These cases were already existing, but no one was able to detect and test them. Now, since the testing is more vigilant, all these extra cases are going to surge and come to light”.