Covid-19 vaccine will not be available to all globally before 2024 end, warns the world’s largest manufacturer

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, estimates that if the coronavirus shot is a two-dose vaccine, the world will need 15 billion doses


                            Covid-19 vaccine will not be available to all globally before 2024 end, warns the world’s largest manufacturer
(Getty Images)

Several countries are currently debating as to who should get the Covid-19 vaccine first, once it gets approved. However, the chief executive of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer has cautioned that adequate coronavirus vaccines will not be available for everyone globally to be immunized until the end of 2024.

In an interview with the Financial Times (FT), Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India (SII), said that pharmaceutical companies were not increasing production capacity “quickly enough to vaccinate the global population in less time.” “It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” said Poonawalla, who estimated that if the Covid-19 shot is a two-dose vaccine, the world will need 15 billion doses. “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 added. 

The Serum Institute is considered the largest vaccine manufacturer globally by the number of doses produced and sold globally, which is over 1.5 billion doses. This includes the polio vaccine as well as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines. Vaccines manufactured by the Pune-based company are being used in about 170 countries and it is estimated that about 65% of the children in the world receive at least one vaccine manufactured by it.

The institute has partnered with five international pharmaceutical firms, including AstraZeneca and Novavax, to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. The company has pledged to produce 1 billion doses, of which it has committed 50% to India, reports FT. 

The Serum Institute has partnered with five international pharmaceutical firms to develop a Covid-19 vaccine (Getty Images)

According to a statement issued by the Serum Institute last month, it has entered into a partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). “The collaboration will provide upfront capital to SII to help them increase manufacturing capacity now so that, once a vaccine, or vaccines, gains regulatory approval and World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification, doses can be produced at scale for distribution to India and LMIC as early as the first half of 2021,” it said. 

The collaboration will provide upfront capital to Serum Institute to help them increase manufacturing capacity now so that, once a vaccine, or vaccines, gains regulatory approval and WHO prequalification, doses can be produced at scale for distribution to India and LMIC as early as the first half of 2021. Globally, over 169 Covid-19 vaccine candidates are currently under development, with 26 of these in the human trial phase, according to the WHO. The agency is working in collaboration with scientists, business, and global health organizations through the ACT (Access to Covid-19 Tools) Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response. When a safe and effective vaccine is found, COVAX -- an initiative led by WHO, Gavi, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations -- will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries, says the WHO.

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