India’s Serum Institute kicks off production of variant-busting Novavax Covid shot

India’s Serum Institute kicks off production of variant-busting Novavax Covid shot

The world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer has started producing the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US firm Novavax. The shot has shone in trials, providing protection against a number of concerning variants.

In a tweet on Friday, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), said the first batch of Novavax’s vaccine, known as Covovax, was being produced at the huge manufacturing site in Pune, India.

He wrote that the vaccine has “great potential” and noted that trials are ongoing to assess its safety in youngsters. 

Excited to witness the first batch of Covovax (developed by @Novavax) being manufactured this week at our facility in Pune. The vaccine has great potential to protect our future generations below the age of 18. Trials are ongoing. Well done team @seruminstindia!

— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) June 25, 2021

In August 2020, the US firm signed an agreement with the SII to produce at least one billion shots of its protein-based coronavirus vaccine. In February, Novavax said it had a memorandum of understanding with the Gavi Vaccine Alliance to provide 1.1 billion shots to the Covax vaccine-sharing facility. 

In mid-June, the US biotech firm built on a successful UK-based trial earlier in the year when it announced very positive results from its phase-three US and Mexico trial. 

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The vaccine, which is administered in a two-dose regimen, importantly proved to be 93% efficient in preventing infection from the ‘variants of concern’ and ‘variants of interest’ in circulation, as well as being 91% effective in high-risk populations. The trial also showed it to be 100% effective in preventing severe and moderate Covid-19.

While the shot may be too late to be used in the first inoculation wave in the UK, US, and EU, it is being touted as a variant-busting booster shot for the autumn as well as a first vaccine for many other countries. 

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