Home / News / India /  Serum's Adar Poonawalla urges Joe Biden: Lift embargo on Covid vaccine raw material exports

Serum Institute of India (SII) Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla on Friday appealed to US President Joe Biden to lift the US embargo on exporting raw materials to help ramp up Covid-19 vaccine production.

Currently, SII, the world's largest maker of vaccines, is manufacturing the anti-coronavirus vaccine Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The Covid-19 vaccine is not only being used in India but also exported to a number of nations.

Tagging the Twitter handle of the President of the United States, Poonawalla wrote, "Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up."

Poonawalla's tweet comes following Oxford-AstraZeneca's legal notice to the Pune-based Serum Institute for delays in deliveries.

The Serum chief had earlier admitted that SII has been facing problems in sending out the required number of batches of Covid-19 vaccines due to the bureaucratic and government-related hurdles.

Poonawalla had also said that SII would need around 3,000 crore to ramp up Covid vaccine production capacity.

The Pune-based company has already delivered over 100 million doses to India and exported around 60 million doses to other countries.

Export embargoes preventing US vaccine makers from exporting shots globally

Covid-19 vaccine makers and experts in India have been concerned that the use of the Defense Production Act by the US to boost their own vaccine production was resulting in exports of critical raw materials being stopped. This was hobbling vaccine production in other parts of the world, according to The Associated Press report.

Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer for Moderna, has said that export embargoes were also preventing American vaccine makers from exporting shots globally and resulting in shortages.

Earlier, he had said that pivoting away from suppliers in America could result in a delay of up to six months for the production of coronavirus vaccine developed by Novavax. SII and Novavax have inked a deal to supply 1.1 billion doses of the vaccine to COVAX to equitably distribute it across the globe.

SII paused exports to COVAX

The Serum Institute has paused exports to COVAX after a devastating surge of Covid-19 cases in India resulted in increased domestic demand.

India logged in a record 2,17,353 new Covid-19 cases as many states grappled with shortages of hospital beds, oxygen, medicines and vaccine shots. The daily new cases in the deadly second wave took the overall tally to 1.42 crore.

The SII chief had said the unavailability of the raw materials, such as the specific medium needed to grow microorganisms, would prevent Serum Institute from scaling up the production of the vaccine developed by Novavax.

The firm had been planning to make up to 40 million shots of the vaccine monthly.

Ramping up the production of this shot could also help India.

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