“Vaccine Production Can Not be Ramped up Overnight:” Poonawalla

NEW DELHI, May 3: The Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla has appreciated the all-round support the central government was providing to the largest vaccine manufacturer of the world but said it was not easy to ramp up vaccine production overnight to meet the entire demand of a huge country like India.

In a statement on Monday Poonawalla said  “Vaccine manufacturing is a specialised process, it is therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight. We have been working with the government of India since April last year. We have got all kinds of support, be it scientific, regulatory, and financial.”

The CEO 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. He said the company has supplied “over 15 crore doses” of the total 26 crore doses that were ordered.

His statement came soon after the union health ministry denied a media report that the centre had not placed fresh orders for vaccines with the vaccine manufacturers.  “These media reports are completely incorrect and are not based on facts. It is clarified that 100 percent 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 of 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.

Both the statements by Poonawalla and the union health ministry came after a report quoting Poonawalla in an interview to a London newspaper that the shortage in vaccine supply would go on till July. “My statement has been misinterpreted,” Poonawalla claimed.

(Manas Dasgupta)