Serum Institute of India (SII) may be forced to delay the launch of its second COVID-19 vaccine Covovax as it is yet to receive raw materials from the US. The vaccine, produced under licence from American company Novavax, will likely not be launched in September as was originally planned, reported Hindustan Times.
Supply shortages continue to plague SII, even as the US lifted its ban on the export of raw materials on June 4. The ban was lifted after diplomatic intervention following a global outcry on US inaction even as India went through the worst COVID-19 surge in the world. The shortage of materials like bioreactor bags and enzymes is responsible for the production delays.
Novavax, which entered a licence agreement with SII to sell its NVX-CoV2373 protein recombinant vaccine under the name of Covovax, recently published its phase three trial data showing over 90.4 percent overall efficacy.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told CNBC-TV18 that the Indian trials for Covovax would be concluded by November, and the company was prepared to start selling the vaccines from September upon getting the go-ahead from the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI).
SII committed in its deal with Novavax to produce one billion doses of its vaccine, half of which would be given to GAVI.
But SII might fall short of its promises yet again. This is not the first time that the launch of the Covovax vaccine has been delayed. Poonawalla had said he expected to launch the vaccine in April, before changing the timeline to June. But now even the September timeline seems to be in question.
The world’s largest vaccine maker has already received legal notices from its other partner AstraZeneca, whose vaccine the manufacturer is selling under the Covishield brand. The legal notice was sent to SII for its failure to meet contractual obligations regarding vaccine supplies.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)