New Delhi: Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Sunday said the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country was likely to begin by January as his firm was expecting to get emergency-use authorisation from the panel by month-end.

Speaking at The Economic Times Global Business Summit, Adar Poonawalla said he expected everyone in India to be vaccinated by October 21 and that normal life could return soon after. “By this month-end, we might get an emergency licence [for the coronavirus vaccine], but the actual licence for wider use might come in at a later date. But we are confident that if the regulators give a nod, India’s vaccination drive can start by January 2021,” Adar Poonawalla said.

“Once 20% of India gets the coronavirus vaccine, we can hopefully see the confidence and sentiments coming back, and by September-October next year hopefully there will be enough vaccines for everyone and normal life can return,” he said.

Earlier on December 7, the vaccine major had applied to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use authorisation for AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in the country. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), SII has already manufactured 40 million doses of the vaccine under the at-risk manufacturing and stockpiling license it obtained from the DCGI.

An expert committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) sought additional safety and efficacy data for coronavirus vaccine candidates from SII and Bharat Biotech after deliberating upon their applications seeking emergency use authorisation for the shots.

As India gears up for the vaccination drive, the government said that a total of 100 people is expected to get the anti-COVID-19 shots at each site per day.

The interim results of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trials, published in The Lancet, shows that the vaccine protects against symptomatic disease in 70% of cases, with vaccine efficacy of 62% for those given two full doses, and of 90% in those given a half, and then a full dose.

(With inputs from agency)