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SII starts Covovax production; Adar Poonawalla sees ‘great potential’ to protect children

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Around 20 crore Covovax doses should be available between August and December. Vaccine can be stored in standard refrigerators.

SII starts Covovax production; Adar Poonawalla sees ‘great potential’ to protect children
The Serum Institute of India (SII) has begun production of US-based biotechnology company Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine at its Pune facility. The recombinant nanoparticle protein-based vaccine -- NVX-CoV2373 -- has been branded Covovax in India.
Novavax had announced a manufacturing agreement with SII in September 2020.
The SII made the announcement through a tweet, “A new milestone has been reached; this week we began our first batch of Covovax (a COVID-19 vaccine developed by @Novavax) at our facility, here in Pune.” The tweet was accompanied by a photograph of SII CEO Adar Poonawalla at the production unit.
After the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield in India and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Covovax will become the third vaccine to be tested on children in India.
Adar Poonawalla said the vaccine has "great potential" to protect children. "Excited to witness the first batch of Covovax (developed by @Novavax) being manufactured this week at our facility in Pune. The vaccine has great potential to protect our future generations below the age of 18. Trials are ongoing. Well done team @seruminstindia," he tweeted.
As per reports, Covovax can be stored in standard refrigerators (temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius), making it suitable for distribution in India.
The government expects approximately 20 crore doses of Covovax to be made available between August and December.
Earlier, Dr V.K. Paul, member, Niti Aayog, who heads India’s COVID-19 task force, had said the Novavax vaccine’s efficacy data was promising and that clinical trials being conducted in India were at an advanced stage.
The Novavax vaccine exhibited a 90.4 percent overall efficacy in phase 3 clinical trials, putting it in the same league as Pfizer-BioNTech (91.3 percent in phase 3 trials) and Moderna (90 percent) vaccines. The vaccine demonstrated 100 percent protection against moderate and severe disease, 90.4 percent efficacy overall, and met the primary endpoint in its PREVENT-19 pivotal phase 3 trial, Novavax said in a statement.
The study was conducted on 29,960 participants across 119 sites in the US and Mexico to evaluate efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine, it added.
Covovax uses a tried and tested recombinant nanoparticle technology to generate antigen derived from the coronavirus spike protein. This is similar to the technology used to develop vaccines for hepatitis and influenza, among others.
Earlier, Novavax had said its production remains on track to reach manufacturing capacity of 100 million (10 crore) doses per month by the end of the third quarter of 2021, and 150 million (15 crore) doses per month by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021.