New Delhi: The coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University and British firm AstraZeneca could be ready for public use in December 2020, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) chief executive Adar Poonawalla has said.

The Serum Institute is currently conducting the phase-3 trial of Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine in India.

In an interview with NDTV, Adar Poonawalla further said the first batch of 100 million doses should be available by the second or third quarter of 2021.

“If we don’t go for an emergency license, our trials should be over by December and then we can maybe we can launch in India in January subject to the UK trial, which is on the verge of being completed,” Poonawalla said.

However, he said much would depend on data from the UK clinical trials and if found safe, the firm would not dither from seeking emergency-use authorisation from the Indian drug regulator.

“If the UK, in the next two weeks, were to unbind their study and share the data and be confident that it’s safe, then we can, after two-three weeks, apply to the Indian regulator to look at a possible emergency license if that’s what the government wants,” he told the news website.

“That review could take about two-three weeks I imagine and then you can have a vaccine by December. We are aiming for 100 million available doses at first. This should be available by Q2-Q3 of 2021,” Poonawala said.

On the price of the vaccine, Poonawalla said it will be affordable. "It is going to be way cheaper than even a test - an RTPCR test today or a rapid antigen test. The government will take most of that load on, financially, and that conversation is going on very well as well," Poonawalla told.

Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine maker by number of doses produced, is working on several vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus - including the one from AstraZeneca-Oxford University that has garnered global headlines - as well as developing its own.

On September 16, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) allowed SII to restart its combined Phase II/III clinical trials after it was halted temporarily following one of the participants developing an “unexplained illness” in the UK.

AstraZeneca is aiming to launch the vaccine, made from a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees, by the end of the year.

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

Indigenous vaccine developer Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with 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.