the U.S. pharmaceutical giant, has started trials of its COVID-19 vaccine in India with partner Serum Institute of India (SII).
The pair has jointly developed Covovax, which has been tested against the South African and U.K. variants, and has an overall efficacy of 89%, according to a tweet by Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of SII, the world’s largest vaccine maker.
It comes as the U.K. said a rival vaccine produced by biotech Moderna
will finally start arriving in the U.K. in April.
In India it is hoped Covovax will be launched by September, and it is the second to be launched by SII. Its first vaccine Covishield was developed in partnership with the University of Oxford and U.K.-Swedish drug company AstraZeneca
Initially, healthcare and frontline workers have been vaccinated, followed by citizens above the age of 50.
In the U.K., a leading politician gave the first details of the timetable for the Moderna vaccine, which will be the third shot to arrive.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said in a television interview over the weekend that the Moderna vaccine would arrive in April. The U.K. has ordered 17 million doses.
Dowden said: “We don’t get into the details of supply chains, but the health secretary has indicated that he would expect later this month we’d start to see Moderna.” He later clarified: “We expect that in April Moderna will come.”
As many as 30 million people have received their first shots in the U.K. but it is in a race to ensure a steady flow of vaccines as some countries limit exports to focus on inoculating their local population.
India temporarily has ceased exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by SII amid a rise in demand locally due to an increase in infections.