CEO of India's Serum says it will take years to produce enough COVID vaccines

Sept. 14, 2020

The CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), Adar Poonawalla, says that when it comes to producing enough SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, drugmakers may have over committed.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Poonawalla predicted that it will likely be late 2024 before the world will be immunized. "It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet," he said. According to Poonawalla, pharma companies are not ramping up production capacity fast enough to achieve a more ambitious timeline.

Poonawalla said that the commitment far exceeded the capacity of vaccine producers. “I know the world wants to be optimistic on it .... [but] I have not heard of anyone coming even close to that [level] right now,” he told Financial Times. 

Serum Institute, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, has partnered with five international pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca to develop COVID vaccines. In separate news, SII said that phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate will resume after receiving a green signal from the Drugs Controller General of India, after AstraZeneca had halted the trial due to a serious adverse event.

Serum, as part of its agreement with AstraZeneca, will seek to produce Covid-19 vaccine doses for 68 countries.