Children in India may have to wait for a little bit longer to get their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine when it is available in the country since the deadly viral infection is less of a nuisance for them, Pune-based Serum Institute of India’s CEO and owner Adar Poonawalla indicated at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2020 on Thursday.
“They can still be carriers of the contagion though and may be the last ones to be vaccinated. It will possibly take more than 4 months for the vaccine to be available for children since they are the least vulnerable,” Poonawalla said
The Serum Institute of India’s CEO was participating in the 18th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in conversation with HT’s Health Editor Sanchita Sharma. The maiden session also saw Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS and Dr Ashish K Jha, Dean, Brown University School of Public Health discussing the Covid-19 health crisis and how it had affected the entire world. Dr Guleria, who has been at the forefront of India’s battle against the Covid-19 pandemic since the outbreak in March 2020, also warned the population to be more cautious now than ever before since a suitable vaccine for the viral disease was just round the corner.
Poonawalla has invested close to 250 million dollars to manufacture a vaccine for Covid-19. “I had no other moral choice…I felt it was almost my responsibility. If I had not taken a call then, we would have lost 6 months. I took the call to commit to manufacturing a vaccine and it has worked out for us. There was a lot of stress but it has all worked out…we are on auto-pilot now waiting for the results to come and then we can start churning out the vaccines,” Poonawalla said.
He elaborated that as soon as the UK authorities approved the vaccine for emergency use and other regulatory approvals were in place, the Serum Institute of India would start rolling out the vaccines for frontline healthcare workers and the elderly, who were most vulnerable to the infection.
SII, which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume is has entered into an agreement with the co-developer of the vaccine, British firm AstraZeneca for manufacturing of about 1 billion doses of the vaccine and its distribution and sale in India and other low-income countries.
The theme of this year’s edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2020, held virtually, is ‘Defining a New Era’ as the world learns to live and deal with the Coronavirus infection and takes baby steps in controlling the pandemic.