Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla has clarified that despite the huge demand for vaccines in India, the company is working to get enough doses for mass inoculation. India is a huge country and to produce enough doses for all adults is not an easy task. Even the most advanced countries and companies are struggling in relatively smaller populations,” Poonawalla said in a statement.
He said the company is working closely with the Centre to manufacture vaccines. “We have got all kinds of support, be it scientific, regulatory and financial,” he said. The SII has received a total order of over 26 crore doses till date, of which more than 15 crore have been given out, he said. We have also got 100% advance of Rs 1732.50 crore by GOI for the next tranche of 11 crore doses in the next few months,” he said.
He said the company is working hard to produce vaccines for all as soon as possible to help India out of the covid crisis.
Poonawalla also said that the production of Covishield is in full swing in Pune and he will review the operations once he is back in the country. Poonawalla is currently in the UK to meet his family members.
“Had an excellent meeting with all our partners & stakeholders in the UK. Meanwhile, pleased to state that COVISHIELD’s production is in full swing in Pune. I look forward to reviewing operations upon my return in a few days,” Poonawalla said in a tweet.
Earlier, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also rebuffed media reports alleging that the Centre has not placed fresh orders for COVID-19 vaccines with the two vaccine manufacturers — Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech — in the country. In a statement, the ministry refuted claims that the last order for vaccine doses was placed in March, 2021.
“These media reports are completely incorrect, and are not based on facts. It is clarified that 100% advance of Rs. 1732.50 cr (after TDS Rs. 1699.50 cr) was released to Serum Institute of India (SII) on 28.04.2021 for 11 crore doses of Covishield vaccine during May, June and July, and was received by them on 28.04.2021. As on date, against the last order of 10 crore doses for supplies of Covishield vaccine, 8.744 crore doses have been delivered till 03.05.2021,” the statement read.
The statement from SII CEO and health ministry come in the backdrop of reports that quoted Poonawalla saying that the shortage in supply would go on till July. The production of Covishield doses is expected to grow in July from 60-70 million vaccines a month to around 100 million, a Financial Times report said.
Poonawalla is expected to get ‘Y’ category security across India by the CRPF soon after Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), Prakash Kumar Singh wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on April 16 requesting security for Poonawalla.
In this letter, Singh had stated that Poonawalla has been getting threats from various groups regarding the COVID-19 vaccine supplies.
Poonwalla on Saturday spoke out about the pressures he was under over the production of Covid-19 vaccines to meet the ever-increasing demand in India as the country battles through a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. In his first comments since he was provided with Y’ category security by the Indian government earlier this week, Poonawalla told The Times’ in an interview about receiving aggressive calls from some of the most powerful people in India, demanding supplies of Covishield — the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine that the Serum Institute is producing in India.