The Drugs Controller General of India has given an approval to conduct phase 2 and 3 human trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the Serum Institute of India. Serum Institute, the largest vaccine company in the world has partnered with AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine, declaring in a statement that it will manufacture a billion doses of the vaccine.
The trials will be conducted across 17 sites in India on 1600 healthy volunteers over age 18. The will be an observer-blind, randomized controlled study to determine the safety and immunogenicity of the Oxford vaccine, dubbed ‘Covishield’, on healthy Indian adults.
Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of Poonawalla Group, which includes the Serum Institute of India (SII), has said, he wanted to make the Covid-19 vaccine available at the lowest price possible so that even the poor can afford it. He has also expressed a desire to make the vaccine available in underdeveloped countries in Africa.
Villoo Poonawalla Charitable Foundation is the CSR arm of the Poonawalla group which is very active in its philanthropic and CSR activities. In this regard let us have a brief look at the CSR initiatives of the Poonawalla group in Healthcare.
Villoo Poonawalla Memorial Hospital
In order to provide quality healthcare at an affordable price, the Villoo Poonawalla Memorial Hospital, a Multispeciality Hospital was established at Hadapsar in Pune. The hospital has been constructed, equipped and commissioned by Welfare Medical Foundation in association with and assistance from Serum Institute of India who has provided wholehearted financial and logistic support. Special attention is given for persons below the poverty line with quality treatments at affordable rates.
Serum Institute of India has supplied various vaccines free of cost or at subsidized prices on several occasions to different social welfare groups, educational/research organizations and charitable trusts to benefit the masses, both nationally and internationally. Millions of vaccine doses have been donated by the organization to countries like Uzbekistan, Lao Democratic Republic, Nepal, India and at a subsidized price to the Philippines, to support their mass immunization campaigns against Measles and Rubella. During the H1N1 pandemic, millions of doses of NASOVAC were donated to protect the underprivileged.
Serum Institute of India has also constructed a Leprosy Rehabilitation Center for accommodation and training of Leprosy cured handicapped persons enabling them to support themselves and live a dignified life.