The United Nations Covid-19 summit passed up a pre-recorded video message from Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, who was scheduled to speak in an afternoon session headlined ‘The Road to a COVID-19 Vaccine – a Global Public Good.’
“Unfortunately, the video couldn’t be provided in time in the required format,” General Assembly spokesman Brenden Varma told IANS. Varma did not provide details on the required format or whether the video arrived and when.
Poonawallah, however, seemed all set for the play-out. “It will be my honour and privilege tonight, to address over a hundred world leaders and nations at the UN special session on COVID19, highlighting India’s crucial role and contribution in fighting this unprecedented global pandemic,” he had tweeted.
Poonawalla’s remarks were to follow after a global state-of-play summary by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, and a panel featuring BioNTech CEO Prof. Ugur Sahin, Dr. Ozlem Tureci and Prof. Sarah Gilbert from the Oxford University/AstraZeneca trial.
The United Nations General Assembly took more than nine months to put together this special two-day session on Covid-19 featuring the world’s leading scientists and collaborative vaccine efforts.
Poonawalla’s Serum Institute of India (SII) is mass manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and hopes to file for an emergency authorization within weeks. After a 28 November visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the company’s headquarters in Pune, Poonawalla said he expects the Indian government to buy 300 million to 400 million doses of ‘Covishield’ by July 2021.
AstraZeneca reported that its vaccine was, on average, 70 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 illness. About 3,000 participants were given the half dose and then a full dose four weeks later, and this provided the best efficacy in the trial – around 90 per cent. In the larger group of nearly 9,000 volunteers, who were given two full doses four weeks apart, efficacy was 62 per cent.