‘India may face shortage of COVID-19 vaccines till July,’ says Adar Poonawalla

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer, Serum Institute of India (SII), said India may face shortage of vaccines for the next few months, and it will likely continue through July.

While talking to Financial Times, Adar Poonawalla said production of vaccines is expected to increase from July to 100 million doses a month – currently it is in the range of 60 – 70 million.

He further said that the company had not increased capacity earlier due to lack of orders, highlighting that severe vaccine shortage would continue through July. "Everybody really felt that India had started to turn the tide on the pandemic," said Poonawalla to Financial Times, adding that the authorities did not expect to confront a second wave back in January, when cases had started declining.

Defending his firm, Poonawalla told the newspaper that SII had been maligned by politicians and critics over vaccine shortage.

“I’ve been victimised very unfairly and wrongly,” he told the newspaper, adding that he had not boosted capacity earlier because “there were no orders, we did not think we needed to make more than 1billion doses a year”.

Poonawalla, who has been in the United Kingdom on extended stay due to threatening demands for the COVID-19 vaccine, said he will return in a few days. Earlier, speaking with the British newspaper, The Times, he revealed receiving threats in India. Adding further he said he and his family left the country after massive “pressure and aggression” over the demand for coronavirus vaccines.

Earlier on Saturday night, the Serum CEO posted on Twitter: “Had an excellent meeting with all our partners & stakeholders in the U.K. Meanwhile, pleased to state that COVISHIELD’s production is in full swing in Pune. I look forward to reviewing operations upon my return in a few days.”

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