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US, Europe holding back critical raw material needed for Covid vaccine production: SII CEO Adar Poonawalla

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla has said that vaccine production in India has been impacted as Europe and the US have halted the export of critical raw material.

UPDATED: April 8, 2021 14:21 IST

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), has told India Today TV that the production of Covid vaccines in the country has been impacted as US-Europe has banned the export of critical raw material.

Responding to a question about difficulties being faced by the SII in ramping up production of doses of Covid-19 vaccine, Adar Poonawalla said, “I wish I could go there and protest in the US myself to say that you are holding back critical raw material that is required for Covaxin and so many vaccine manufacturers in India and other parts of the world.”

“That is one thing we are really struggling with within the short term because we need this now. We don’t need it after six months or a year because, by that time, we’d have developed other suppliers,” Adar Poonawalla said.

The SII is not looking to import raw material from China given quality issues and other supply constraints, he said.

‘SII aims to produce 10-11 crore doses each month’

The Serum Institute is producing 6-6.5 crore doses of Covishield each month, Adar Poonawalla said. He went on to add that the SII looks to ramp up production to 10-11 crore doses per month by June of this year.

The World’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, Pune-based SII is producing the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. This vaccine is being marketed in India under the name ‘Covishield’.

Regulators in India have approved SII’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for emergency use in the country. At present, all those aged 45 and above are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccines in India.

‘Working with govt to take care of Indians first’

“We are working with the government at this stage at this price point to take care of Indians first,” said Adar Poonawalla.

The CEO of Serum Institute told India Today TV the SII has accepted the central government’s request to maintain the current price of vaccines for a temporary period of two three months and to prioritise the supply to India.

Asked about the SII’s strategy to meet commitments in terms of the supply of University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine, CEO Adar Poonawalla said the Serum Institute is prioritising the needs of India.

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