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The Serum Institute CEO sees AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine as a "excellent" candidate

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Pune

By Euan Rocha and Nidhi Verma

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine maker, sees AstraZeneca's (NASDAQ 🙂 Plc's COVID-19 vaccine candidate as a "very good" option, which according to some experts, gives it a great vote of confidence Questions about the test data.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), which has partnered with the UK drug maker to conduct trials of its COVISHIELD vaccine in India and produce the vaccine candidate when approved, plans to obtain an emergency license for in the next two weeks to apply for the vaccine, said Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of SII.

"This vaccine is very good," said Poonawalla in a virtual press conference after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the SII campus on Saturday.

"What we found at COVISHIELD in its global study is that there were no hospital admissions. This means that even if you become infected, you won't have a major attack and second, even those who had the disease didn't infect others ", he said .

Poonawalla's comments are a boost for AstraZeneca after some scientists expressed doubts about the robustness of the results, which showed that the shot was 90% effective in a subset of subjects who incorrectly initially received half a dose followed by a full dose .

He also noted that the AstraZeneca vaccine came along with the vaccine Novavax (NASDAQ 🙂 – the US vaccine developer SII also worked with – offered a distinct advantage over certain competitors' vaccine candidates, which have to be stored at much lower temperatures.

"Our two vaccine candidates can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, and India has a lot of storage and infrastructure for that temperature range. It has a little less storage for -20 ° C and almost nothing for -70 ° C," said Poonawalla.

US vaccine developer Moderna (NASDAQ 🙂 and Pfizer (NYSE 🙂 recently announced strong efficacy results for their respective vaccine candidates, but both vaccines must be stored at very low temperatures, which would be challenging for many developing countries.

According to Moderna, the vaccine can be stored for 30 days at normal refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and up to 6 months at -20 ° C. Pfizer's experimental vaccine must be stored at -70 ° C for an extended period.

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