After slamming the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government over "maligning the company's image over the shortage and price of their COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield', Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Monday has clarified and said that his comments "may have been misinterpreted".
"First of all, vaccine manufacturing is a specialized process, it is therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight. We also need to understand that the population of India is huge 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. Secondly, we have been working closely with Government of India since April last year. We have got all kinds of support, be it scientific, regulatory and financial," Poonawalla said in a statement.
Poonawalla added that his company has received total orders of over 26 crore doses, of which they have supplied more than 15 crore doses. "We have also got 100% advance of Rs. 1732.50 crore by Gol for the next tranche of 11 crore doses in the next few months. Another 11 crore doses would be supplied in the second channel for states & private hospitals in the next few months," he said.
Poonawalla's statement comes after he slammed the government in an interview with the Financial Times. He told that his company’s image was maligned by the Indian government over the shortage and price of vaccines while saying it is the government that is responsible for that and not the company. Poonawalla said that Serum Institute was unable to ramp up production because "there were no orders" from the government, saying that he had been "victimised very fairly and wrongly" for what amounted to the government's failure to prepare in January while case numbers were still low. "Everybody really felt that India had started to turn the tide on the pandemic," he said.
Reportedly, the government had placed an order of 21 million doses from Serum Institute but did not indicate when it would buy more. "The government abruptly added an order for 110 million doses in March when there was a sudden spike in cases," a report in Independent said.