Oxford COVID Vaccine in India: Here’s All You Need to Know

Availability, pricing, logistics: Here’s why India is waiting for the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed.

2 min read
The Oxford coronavirus vaccine could be launched in India in January 2021. Pune-based Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla informed NDTV.

After months of clinical trials, uncertainty over pricing and availability, the world finally inches closer to having a COVID-19 vaccine. While clinical trials of vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have yielded excellent results, India continues to pin its hopes on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and for good reasons.

Here’s all you need to know about the vaccine that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and has been dubbed Covishield in our country.


By When Can India Expect the Oxford Vaccine?

While speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2020 in November, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla, said that the Oxford vaccine should be available in India in another “two-three” months.

“By January we will have 100 million doses, minimum. The target set by the government is 300 to 400 million doses by July.”
Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India 

He reportedly added that the vaccine will first be made available for healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, municipal employees, police and the armed forces by February 2021. The elderly would also be prioritised. By April 2021, the vaccine should be available for the general public. Poonawalla said that it will take about four more years to get everyone vaccinated and protected from the virus.

How Much Would it Cost?

The vaccine is likely to cost a maximum of Rs 1,000 if purchased from the pharmacy. It will be priced at around Rs 500- Rs 600 at the private market. The government is likely to get it from Rs 250-300.

Two doses of the vaccine will be required. Covishield will reportedly cost much lower than the competing vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. While the Moderna vaccine is expected to cost around Rs 2,775 per dose, Pfizer vaccine is expected to cost around Rs 1,500.


How Effective Will it be?

The Phase 3 clinical trials of Covishield are ongoing across India on 1,600 participants. Interim findings in large trials in the UK and Brazil for the vaccine showed 70.4 percent efficacy. This data was achieved from combining two dose regimes.

In one dosing regimen where half a dose was given to the individuals followed by a full dose at least one month apart, the efficacy of the vaccine turned out to be 90 percent. In another regimen where two full doses of vaccine were given to the individual a month apart, the efficacy was 62 percent.

While the Oxford vaccine recorded a lower protection percentage compared to Pfizer and Moderna, which have 95 percent efficacy, Covishield wins over the other two when it comes to pricing and logistics.

How will it be Stored and Accessed?

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in close to normal fridge temperatures and can also be transported in temperatures between 2 to 8 degree Celsius. This makes storing and transporting the vaccines easy.

In comparison, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require special refrigerated vans at minus 80 degree Celsius while transporting or storing the vaccine. Unlike its competitors, the Oxford-AZ vaccine can use normal supply chain even in rural areas where cold chain logistics could be a challenge.

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