4 min read.Updated: 18 May 2021, 07:53 PM IST Edited By Meghna Sen
Poonawalla said that the country's Covid-19 vaccination drive cannot be completed in two or three months given the huge population
Serum Institute of India (SII) chief Adar Poonawalla on Tuesday said that his company has "never exported vaccines at the cost of the people of India".
"We would like to reiterate that we have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people of India and remain committed to do everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country," SII said in a statement.
SII has said that in January 2021, the company had a large stockpile of vaccine doses. The firm also said that the country's Covid-19 vaccination drive cannot be completed in two or three months given the huge population.
The Covid-19 vaccination campaign had started successfully and the number of daily cases being recorded were at an all-time low. At that stage, most people, including health experts believed that India was turning the tide on the pandemic.
"Our government extended support wherever possible during this period," it said.
Poonawalla on Covid vaccine export
Poonawalla said his firm would continue to scale up its production of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine and start exporting to other countries by the end of the year.
"We must also understand that this pandemic is not limited by geographic or political boundaries," the SII statement read.
The SII, the world's biggest vaccine maker that manufactures Covishield, responded by saying that it hoped to restart deliveries to COVAX and other countries by the end of this year.
SII has said it has delivered over 200 million doses, even though they received EUA two months after the US pharma firms.
"If we look at total doses produced and delivered, we rank amongst the top three in the world," the company added.
Battling the world's biggest jump in coronavirus infections, India halted vaccine exports a month ago after donating or selling more than 66 million doses. The move has left countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and many in Africa scrambling for alternate supplies.
The World Health Organization, which co-leads COVAX, on Monday called on vaccine makers outside India to advance supplies to the programme given the shortfall from the South Asian country.
Read Serum's full statement here:
The Covid 19 crisis has been difficult on people across the globe, including India. In the past few days. there has been intense discussion on the decision of our Government and Indian vaccine manufacturers including SII to export vaccines.
It is important that before we make conclusions, we consider a few important aspects of the events that have transpired -
Firstly, in January 2021 we had a large stockpile of vaccine doses. Our vaccination drive had started successfully and the number of daily cases being recorded were at an all-time low. At that stage, most people including health experts believed that India was turning the tide on the pandemic.
Around the same time, many other countries in the world were facing an acute crisis and were in desperate need of help. Our Government extended support wherever possible during this period. It is this spirit that had initially led to corporation between countries when the virus first emerged in the beginning of 2020. The corporation between countries also forms the basis for us getting access to technology and aid for healthcare. Today, it is this reciprocity, where India has helped other countries with the supply of HCQ and vaccine exports, that has in tum led to support from other countries.
We must also understand that this pandemic is not limited by geographic or political boundaries. We will not be safe till everyone one globally is able to defeat this virus at a global scale. Further as part of our global alliances, we also had commitments to COVAX, so that they could distribute the vaccines globally to end the pandemic.
Another important factor that people do not tend to realise is that we are amongst the two most populous countries in the world, a vaccination drive for such a large population cannot be completed within 2-3 months, as there are several factors and challenges involved. That said it would take 2-3 years for the entire world population to get fully vaccinated.
SII has delivered more than 200 mn doses, even though we received EUA two months after the US pharma companies. If we look at total doses produced and delivered, we rank amongst the top three in the world. We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India. We also hope to start delivering to COVAX and other countries by end of this year.
We would like to reiterate that we have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people in India and remain committed to do everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country.
We have been working with the government tirelessly to do our best for humanity and will continue in the same spirit. This is the time for all of us to unite and work together to defeat the pandemic.
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