Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which is helping AstraZeneca manufacture Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, has decided to apply for emergency authorisation in next two weeks. AstraZeneca and Oxford University had earlier said in a joint statement that Covishield is 70 per cent effective in prevention against the deadly virus. The vaccine, which is currently in the third phase of clinical trial, has been tested on as many as 23,000 people.

“Moreover, there was zero hospitalisation during the trial and 60% reduction in sterilizing immunity,” Serum Institute chief executive Adar Poonawalla said as quoted by Mint.

Talking about who would get the first doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Poonawalla said: “The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed initially in India, then we will look at the COVAX countries which are mainly in Africa. Our priority is India & COVAX countries.”

“The United Kingdom and European markets are being taken care of by AstraZeneca and Oxford,” he added.

Poonawalla’s statement comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the manufacturing unit of the Serum Institute in Pune. Modi visited three such manufacturing facilities on Saturday to review the vaccine development in India.

“Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility,” PM Modi said in a tweet.

Poonawalla was amazed by Modi’s knowledge on the science related to the vaccine production. “PM Narendra Modi is extremely knowledgeable now on vaccines & vaccine production. We were amazed at what he already knew. There was very little to explain to him, except for going into detail on different variable vaccines & the challenges that they may face ahead,” he said.