Oxford vaccine: A global search continues for a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) even as a rise in the number of infections and related deaths are being reported. According to a tally by world meters, more than 57 million people have contracted the disease so far and more than 1.3 million have lost their lives due to it. The tally also shows that nearly 40 million people have recovered from the coronavirus disease to date.

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The Oxford COVID-19 vaccine will be priced at a maximum of Rs 1,000 for two necessary doses for the public, (depending on the final trial results and regulatory approvals), said Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla. He also asserted that the vaccine will be available for healthcare workers and elderly people by around February 2021 and for the general public by April. 

Speaking at a media event, Poonawala asserted that every Indian will get vaccinated, probably by 2024.

“It will probably take two or three years for every Indian to get inoculated, not just because of the supply constraints but because you need the budget, the vaccine, logistics, infrastructure, and then, people should be willing to take the vaccine. So these are the factors that lead up to being able to vaccinate 80-90 percent of the population. It will be 2024 for everybody, if willing to take a two-dose vaccine, to be vaccinated,” news agency PTI quoted him as saying. 

Talking about its price, the SII CEO said that the central government will be getting it at a far cheaper price at around USD 3-4 because it will be buying in bulk and get access to the price that is similar to what COVAX has got.

“We are still pricing is far cheaper and more affordable than other vaccines we have in the market today,” Poonawalla added. He also clarified that children would have to wait a little longer for the vaccine till the safety data is out, but the good news is that COVID-19 is not so bad and serious for them.

“Unlike measles pneumonia, which is deadly, this disease is seeming to be less of a nuisance for children but then, they can be carriers and can give the infection to others. We want to vaccinate the elderly people and others who are the most vulnerable first. Once we have enough safety data to go in on children, we can recommend it for children too,” he stated further.

Poonawalla said the Oxford vaccine is affordable, safe, and stored at a temperature of two to eight degrees Celsius, which is an ideal temperature for it to be stored in the cold storages of India. He said the SII plans to make about 10 crore doses per month from February.

Mean-while, India witnessed a jump of over 50 percent in COVID-19 cases, after which its cumulative tally rose to 89,58,483. As per the Health Ministry data, the total death toll rose to 1,31,578.  The active cases now total 4,43,303 as 83,83,602 people have recovered from the disease so far.

One reason for the daily spike could be increased testing as 10,28,203 samples were tested on Wednesday after a long weekend when eight lakh samples on an average were tested, data from the Indian Council of Medical Research showed.

The situation of COVID-19 remains grim in the national capital. The city recorded 7,546 fresh COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking the infection tally to over 5.1 lakh, even as 98 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 8,041.