1 min read.Updated: 19 Apr 2021, 11:54 PM ISTAftab Ahmed
SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, sought the funds to increase its monthly capacity to more than 100 million doses by the end of May, from up to 70 million currently
The government is set to accept the Serum Institute of India’s (SII’s) request for a ₹3,000 crore grant to boost its capacity to make the AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine, a government official aware of the matter said.
SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, sought the funds to increase its monthly capacity to more than 100 million doses by the end of May, from up to 70 million currently. “We are clear that we will give whatever support is necessary to develop and boost the availability of vaccines in the country," the person said on Sunday, declining to be identified as he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Given the surge in domestic demand, any funding from the government is unlikely to help alleviate a slump in vaccine exports. India has delayed big shipments this month, exporting only about 2 million doses compared with 64 million doses between late January and March.
A finance ministry spokesman declined to comment. SII, which will soon also start making the Novavax covid-19 vaccine, did not respond to a request for comment.
The government is struggling to meet the demand for the vaccine from many states as infections spread with record speed.
India has administered more than 112 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot so far, the most in the world, despite concerns about some people overseas developing blood clots after receiving the vaccine.
Since starting its immunization campaign in mid-January, it has injected a total of 123 million vaccine doses, including nearly 11 million of a domestically developed shot known as Covaxin.
The government is also trying to boost the output of Covaxin and has also changed rules to fast-track imports of vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.