Serum Institute Raises USD 150 Million Funding For Additional 100 Million Vaccine Doses

The Indian frontrunner vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute announced on Tuesday that it raised around USD 150 Million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for manufacturing of another 100 Million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in India and other emerging economies.

After its latest funding, its total dose commitments sum up to 200 Million. This funding covers the license to manufacture and sell the vaccine by AstraZeneca and Novavax. Currently, the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is undergoing Phase III trials while Novavax’s vaccine candidate’s next trial is expected to start in October. The Pune-based institute has agreed to sell the vaccine just at a price of USD 3 to make it available for India and other struggling economies.

Earlier this month, Novavax said that it’s aiming for 2 Billion Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity under an agreement with Serum Institute. The vaccine manufacturer inked a deal with Novavax to produce at least a minimum of one billion vaccine doses. In the same month, Serum halted AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 trials because of “unexplained illness” in a participant during the trials. However, Serum Institute resumed the trials after DGCI gave the nod for it.

“At this stage, it is important for governments and global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring no one is left behind in the road to recovery. This association is in line with our efforts to see that the future vaccines reach the remotest part of the world, providing full immunization coverage in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute.

The recent funding has totaled up the Serum Insitute funding to USD 300 Million. Currently, India leads the global average and has surpassed 6 Million in total cases while the total recoveries have reached over 5.1 Million. On Monday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the first vaccine in India will availably by early 2021. There are currently three viable vaccine candidates in the country while it added the research to develop a vaccine is being “done expeditiously.”

In a recent tweet by Adar Poonawala, he says that the next challenge India might face is the distribution of vaccines across the country. “Quick question; will the government of India have 80,000 crores [approximately USD 10.8 Billion] available, over the next one year? Because that’s what the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle,” he tweeted.

Besides this, another player who’s running in the race to distribute the potential COVID-19 vaccine is Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. Around the midst of September, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) partnered with the Indian pharmaceutical company to run the clinical trials and distribute the Sputnik V vaccine in India. Dr. Reddy’s will conduct Phase III trials and will supply around 100 Million doses in India. Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine. The trials in India will be starting in the next few weeks, Deepak Sara, CEO for API and pharmaceutical services at Dr. Reddy’s told Reuters this month.