Pune: "More than enough" doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca will be kept for the Parsi community, Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of the vaccine's local manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII), has said.

Poonawalla, while replying to a tweet by film producer Ronnie Screwvala, however, did not specify the quantity of the doses that will be kept for the community, which is grappling with a shrinking population.

When contacted, a spokesperson of SII told PTI that it was just a "casual and friendly conversation" between two Parsis and once the vaccine is made, "everyone will be getting it".

On Sunday (July 26), replying to Ronnie Screwvala on Twitter, Poonawalla said, "Yes @RonnieScrewvala, we will keep more than enough for the community. Our production capacity of just one day will be enough to cover every Parsi on the planet. given the size of our community."

Screwvala in his tweet, wherein he had tagged Poonawalla, said, "On a lighter note, Since Parsi's are to be Extinct race (Though avg age of Parsi's show otherwise) there is a lobby that as the vaccine does come in there will be a special quota under saving from extinction race & why not if a Parsi is at the forefront of it."

When PTI asked SII through e-mail how many vaccine doses will be reserved for the community, the company's spokesperson said, "It was just a casual and friendly conversation between two Parsis. Once the vaccine is made, everyone will be getting it. It is very early to talk about this."

On the distribution strategy of the vaccine in India post-production at mass level, the spokesperson said "once the vaccine trials are done and successful, it will be procured and distributed by the governments so that people don’t have to buy it directly".

Poonawalla last week said the company aims to manufacture 300 million to 400 million doses by the year-end, following the success of initial and licensure trials.

He said as part of the agreement with AstraZeneca, SII can manufacture one billion doses for India and nearly 70 low and middle income countries.

There are no challenges in manufacturing of the vaccine doses and the company will be starting by making 60 to 70 million doses per month, he said.

The high prevalence of COVID-19 infections in Mumbai and Pune will help test the efficacy of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, SII said last week.

By end of August, between 4,000 to 5,000 people in Pune and Mumbai will be injected with the vaccine as part of trials that are scheduled to last over two months, it said.

The Oxford University has reported satisfactory progress from the vaccines test results and is conducting bigger field tests in the UK.

In India, it has chosen SII as the manufacturing partner, which has to conduct field trials before getting the final nod to ensure they are safe and effective for Indians.

Also watch: We know India is battling enemies like the dreaded Covid-19 & a conniving China. But there is a bigger enemy, and that one lies within.

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