New Delhi: Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla has said that Covishield, a coronavirus vaccine candidate, could be ready as early as December this year while the first batch comprising 100 million doses may be available by the early 2021. He, however, added that a lot would depend on approvals by the Health Ministry. Also Read - Good News: Coronavirus Vaccine Possible By Christmas, Says UK's Vaccine Taskforce Head

For the uninitiated, India is the manufacturing partner of Covishield, developed jointly by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute’s and AstraZeneca. The Pune-based firm, SII, is looking after the trials at 17 trial sites across India. Also Read - After Tamil Nadu & Madhya Pradesh, UP to Now Provide Free Corona Vaccine to All Its Residents

A UK media report earlier this month said Covishield, which is also being tested there, could be cleared by health regulators in that country by end-2020 and be rolled out within six months. Also Read - Corona Vaccine Latest News: Does Govt Have 80K Cr to Buy & Distribute Vaccine, Asks Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla

“That review could take about two-three weeks I imagine and then you can have a vaccine by December but all these would have to happen and I don’t want to venture a guess whether that would happen or not happen because it’s not my place to do so – that’s for the health ministry officials to decide,” NDTV quoted Poonawalla as saying.

“We are aiming for 100 million available doses at first. This should be available by Q2-Q3 of 2021,” he said when asked about the availability of the booster shots.

He also dismissed any safety concern. “The vaccine is very safe. Thousands of people have had it in India and abroad so we’re cracking on. On track with no safety concerns,” he said.

Besides, two other vaccine candidates are also being tested across the country.

Indigenous vaccine developer Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology, is conducting Phase-1 and Phase-2 clinical trials of vaccine candidate COVAXIN.

The third vaccine candidate under human trial is ZyCoV-D, developed by Zydus Cadila. This candidate is now under Phase-1 and Phase-2 of clinical trials.