The Serum Institute of India, which is producing Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine in the country under the name Covovax, today said "a new milestone has been reached" as it began manufacturing the first batch of the vaccine this week at its Pune unit.
The jab is more than 90 per cent effective, the American vaccine maker said earlier this month, after a US study.
Adar Poonawalla, the CEO Of the SII, this afternoon tweeted: "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! (sic)." The Serum Institute of India is the world's largest vaccine maker.
India is yet to give an approval to a coronavirus vaccine for children. So far, three vaccines - Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, the SII's Covishield and Russia's Sputnik V - have been cleared for adults. Sources have said the SII plans to start Covovax trials for children next month.
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! pic.twitter.com/K4YzY6o73A— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) June 25, 2021
Mr Poonawalla had earlier said he hoped to launch the Covovax vaccine by June. Later, he said vaccine launch was likely by September.
The Serum Institute is already producing Covishield, which is one of the two key vaccines India is currently dependent on.
The drug regulator DCGI also gave the SII permission to test, analyse and then manufacture Russia's Sputnik V at its Pune plant.
With the government trying to vaccinate over 108 crore people by the end of this year, opposition leaders have been criticising the slow pace of vaccination amid India's second wave and expert's warning on the third wave. While differential pricing was another key contentious issue, a new vaccine regime came into force from Monday to give free vaccines to all.
Meanwhile, the Novavax jab "demonstrated 100 per cent protection against moderate and severe disease, 90.4 per cent efficacy overall," the company said in a statement earlier this month, adding "the study enrolled 29,960 participants across 119 sites in the U.S. and Mexico to evaluate efficacy, safety and immunogenicity". It further underlined that it intended to apply for regulatory approval by the third quarter of 2021.
"Today, Novavax is one step closer to addressing the critical and persistent global public health need for additional COVID-19 vaccines," said Stanley C. Erck, Novavax's president and chief executive.